“The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”
Martin Luther King, From Strength to Love
Human beings are capable of venturing into possibilities which are tough to imagine.The inherent nature of inquisitiveness present in Humans species enables them to achieve miraculous things. Advancement in science and technology is one of the prominent testimony of such Human perseverance. The present scenario is such that it is practically impossible to live a day without Technology coming into the picture. Technology has occupied a predominant stature in current human civilization. And sometimes it makes us wonder about the validity and the impact of the apparent predicament that technology is offering in the form of appealing objects in our day-to-day lives. Accepting the dominant role that technology has to play, not just today but for days to come, in solving the practical problems, it is imperative to find equivocal opinions over the impact of such technological influence on the thinking and creative abilities of man.
On a positive note, technical advancement is a clear testimony of the fact that human intelligence is attaining greater degrees of success than ever before. And what can be a better way to express an achievement than appreciating the contributions that made the unachievable thing achievable. Regardless of the long-term consequences, any technological advancement brings with it an immediate occasion of joy and gaiety and sometimes an inner fulfillment that everyone is longing for. But the situation doesn’t end here. Just like every coin has an opposite face, scientific innovation is not bereft of such an ugly setting. And such a setting is relative in nature. For some, it serves as a great boon and for others useless or in fact detrimental. The reason behind such a wide range of perception and opinion lies in the application part of the technological innovation, in most of the cases.
Let us consider the issue from different perspectives and using instances from the history which will make it easier to arrive at a possible conclusion.
Perspective 1: Reliance on technology is never detrimental:
- Development, implementation, and usage of skills can never be possible without real problem-solving skills. So, when we talk of reliance on technology, it refers to serve as an aid to make the process of problem-solving and thinking even easier by saving time in executing simple applications and calculations and allowing us to engage in complex problem-solving tasks.
- Technology has been able to connect different people all over the world in a much better way and has made ideas and information exchange possible in ways like never before.
- Every implementation and advancement in science and technology is driven by intelligence and decision-making skills of human beings.
- Technology has made access to information and knowledge, even more, easier and thereby enhancing the possibilities of advanced problem solving and decision making.
The invention of the wheel is a crude instance. There has never been an instance where human reliance on the wheel has proven to be harmful or ever resulted in a cognitive recession in humans. Instead, there has been a significant innovation in the field of transportation and automation, thanks to excessive use of the innovation. In fact, it is clear that reliance on technology not necessarily precludes the creativity that marks the human species.
Perspective 2: Over-reliance on technology is actually detrimental:
Mere reliance on technology can never be detrimental in its natural disposition. It is our use only that decides whether technology is good or bad.
The statement can be interpreted in several ways. But predominant acceptance lies valid with an argument that, overuse of technology in day to day lives makes us complacent enough to leave everything, possible on a small scale, on common technology and gadgets. And also makes our standard of living poorer and pathetic. It is nothing more than a bad bargain.
Imagine a student who has access to a scientific calculator from his childhood for his calculations and another student uses a pen, paper and his intelligence to work out the same arithmetic. There will be a significant difference in the thinking and analytical ability in both of them. And consequences will be more severe in testing situations where students need to write exams without the use of calculators – which actually is the case in every high school exam. In this case, access to technology has made the student lazy and retarded concerning mathematical calculations.
Similarly, one can pen down numerous instances and examples where inappropriate and over indulgence in technology have actually proven to be detrimental. Consider the advent of CAD and Modelling softwares for Engineering and Machine drawing. There has been a serious decline in the ability of students with regards to the knowledge of drawing. Everything is done by click and drag of a mouse in the GUI interface. Students hardly find any interest to learn the fundamental skills of drawing using geometrical tools on paper and the consequences are: Students are losing their thinking and imaginative power. Simple projections are now appearing difficult to understand.
Now that we have presented the prevalent perspective on the discussion let us now sit back and look at the original picture. What has been presented till now is nothing more than what a layman sees or thinks about Technology. But the reality is even more profound and needs to be analyzed from the authentic source of knowledge-the timeless Vedic wisdom-knowledge of the scriptures.
As it has been rightly quoted:
“Technology … the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.” – Max Frisch, Homo Faber.
It is the expertise of technology to keep us from experiencing the realities of the world.
Technology offers luxuries to a few, but it strips millions of their necessities in the process. It heals in retail and kills in wholesale.
Often the proponents of technology argue that the misuse of technology is to be condemned, not technology itself. They liken technology to a knife; in the hand of a murderer it kills, but in the hand of a surgeon, it cures. Similarly, the argument goes, technology cannot be blamed if mavericks threaten to, say, misuse nuclear weapons.
The analogy is good, but does it apply to technology? Technology does not just create machines. It also creates the worldviews of the users of those machines.
Laptops and tablets have replaced books.
Video games have replaced physical sports.
Emails and social media sites have long replaced the postal media.
Online platforms are replacing classroom education.
Virtual space is replacing social interaction.
And much more…
The result is: Smiling faces and crying hearts. People have lost their power to discriminate. Everyone is simply trying to present themselves the way society demands from them. Identity crisis has become the root cause of all social and emotional problems. We must admit, technological advancement is not going to give us real happiness. Everybody is in search of happiness and real happiness is in understanding ourselves, in knowing the truth and the actual purpose of life and then living by it.
In a technology-centered world, a multitude of gadgets and devices promise control, enjoyment, and happiness. Consequently, a worldview, that technology can give us the means to enjoy anything and everything, is developed, consciously or unconsciously. Tech savvy life, being secular and popular, takes us away from the higher spiritual purpose of life. Having lost the opportunity to find the real inner fulfillment or real happiness, people consider material or technical advancement to be the only purpose of life and feel that it will give them happiness. This world has limited resources and people have unlimited desires thereby, frustration due to lust and greed is inevitable. Frustration when the lust or greed not satiated.
As Gandhiji had rightly said,
“Earth has enough for everybody’s need but not for a man’s greed”
These few examples indicate a general pattern: technology is used far more for the selfish pleasures of some than for the selfless good of all. Going back to the knife analogy, imagine giving a knife to a person who we know is blind and mad. What is he going to do with it other than misuse it to harm himself and others? As discussed above, the technological worldview makes people spiritually blind and materially mad. When such people – whether they be scheming politicians, cunning businessmen or misled masses – are given technology, what will they do other than misusing it for gradual or sudden MAD (mutually assured destruction)?