Got You Covered

A lot of us here at the Editorial Board grew up in a time and place where the word “technology” was a term used for electrically powered crazy inventions with cranky mechanical sounds. It was a vague concept, but not entirely mysterious. It was a normal form of progress that updated the public every 5 years or so. Today, technology has become a concept that skyrocketed exponentially, almost thinking and adding innovation on its own. It’s hard to stop it in its track if you do need to stop it somehow.

Technology, however, wasn’t all this complicated. 500 years ago when the first movable printing press was invented, people marveled and were awed with it. But even the laymen knew it’s mechanism. They understood the process and how it worked. These days, you have to learn several programming languages, understand big data and Artificial Intelligence just to be in-the-know of the latest technological advances. Our understanding has failed to keep up with the innovation. When decades ago, we have a basic understanding of how a telephone works, today we confidently use our smartphones to do a video call with someone miles across the globe, yet we do not really know all the details to how it is possible.

Indeed, we have successfully tamed technology – and we are thankful for it. Technology has got us covered in our day to day lives, even in the most basic tasks.  Technology has covered us so efficiently that instead of just using the regular blaring alarm clocks that shock us to consciousness, our smartphones have built-in alarms that sound off in a mellow crescendo to make sure we wake up gently, feeling fully refreshed.

Is it the nature of technology to make our lives easier and make society better? In many aspects, the answer would be a big and resounding yes. But in reality, technology will always remain inherently neutral. Oftentimes, our advances in technology create unintended waste and consequences that make life a little more complicated than it should be. Who would have thought that a simple creation of “Teflon” to make great non-stick frying pans and durable refrigerators would lead to the creation of atomic bombs that killed about 226,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the time of invention, no one thought that plastics would damage our environment so drastically. The same is true for the seemingly harmless social media and video games which crippled our relationships and social interaction. Technology can and has been abused.

But if this is the case, why then do people still pursue advancing technology to new and greater heights? Several reasons. One would be that technology promises greater benefits that would outweigh the harm. Another reason, like the invention of Teflon, would be that the harm was not yet realized, and we can’t just stop innovating because we don’t know how it will be used in the future. But probably the greatest reason why we still continue to utilize technology despite the unforeseen consequences is that our brilliance as humans allow us to use technology to repair all the damage we have done, and predict the possible harmful byproducts of our latest innovation.

For years to come, up until we manage to destroy all our humanity and civilization on Earth, or we get to relocate to other planets in other star systems, technology will have gotten us covered and make our life easier year after year. Just remember that we also need to cover for ourselves and be responsible in our every action that will affect our society. Ultimately, it’s only our choice to use or abuse our innovation and anything we create.