The development and spread of various technologies has become synonymous with the level of prosperity in a particular place. In economics, technology is one of the major factors that determine the growth and potential in the production process. It is also a basis for distinguishing between developed and developing countries and the advancement of technology is considered an essential factor to a country’s progress.
The importance of technology in the world today cannot be stressed upon enough, which leads us to a discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of technology.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines technology as the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area such as engineering or medicine. A more comprehensive view of this concept can be grasped from the Wiki definition of technology – “the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function”.
Ever since pre historic times, humans have been applying their knowledge in ways that would make life easier for mankind as a whole. We have come a long way since the discovery of fire and invention of the wheel, and there is no stopping the advance of the technological age. It has permeated every aspect of our lives from the alarm clock that wakes us up in the morning to toaster ovens and nuclear reactors. The advantages and disadvantages of technology are of great relevance due to the huge role that technology plays in our lives today.
Technology and Economics
Noted economists such as Adam Smith and Schumpeter have recognised the great significance of technology in the development of nations and creation of business cycles. The Schumpeterian school of thought which advocates the theory of “creative destruction” stresses on the importance of innovation and technological advances in bringing about the end of the old ways and creating a new phase or business cycle in the economy.
Keynesian economics also involves concepts of production per worker and total production levels in an economy, both of which are mainly affected by the technological prowess of the nation. It contributes in increasing the GDP of a nation which is well reflected in the high GDPs of developed countries which have access to the best technologies globally. The manufacturing (secondary sector) and service sectors (tertiary sector) are dependent completely on the technological progress of a nation. Although primary sectors of the economy like agriculture and animal husbandry did not require a highly developed technological base, they are now accepting newer and better technologies which help in improving output.
The efficiency and ease provided by technological innovations as simple as calculators to complex super fast computers, has made business transactions and cross continent interaction much easier and faster. These developments have completely changed the dynamics of business and manufacturing units. Multinational companies are sprouting up by the dozen due to the new possibilities made available by technological advancements. The quality of the entire manufacturing sector, which forms the backbone of the infrastructural and production units of an economy, is determined by the amount of technological knowledge available to the producers. This has been recognised by leading companies the world over who are constantly dedicating a larger portion of their funds to R&D.
Thus it is clear that the advantages and disadvantages of technology in this respect are quite one sided. The economic benefits of technology far outweigh any drawbacks. Technology has and will continue to play a significant role in spurring growth in economies.
Technology and Culture
The advent of new innovative products in our daily lives has redefined our cultures to a large extent. Hunting, riding and fishing as means of entertainment have given way to play stations, television and movie theatres. Almost every outdoor experience such as riding on horseback, swimming or jogging can now be replicated in the environ of our homes by a variety of gadgets and technologies.
All in all, people today have adopted a more sedentary lifestyle thanks to the convenience provided by technological innovations. With a new iPad or computer operating system being developed every two months, people have enough to keep them occupied both in terms of work and leisure.
Other aspects of our cultural lives such as communication and transportation have progressed to an extent that the world seems a much smaller place. Transatlantic journeys that would’ve taken several months to complete a century ago can now be covered in a matter of a few hours by air travel. These advantages of technology are quite evident to us and it would be difficult to imagine life without them today. Advantages of smart technology are also prevalent in educational institutions and among students. For example use of laptop, desktop computers, iPad also prove beneficial to the students in their studies in many ways. Computer and net technology is a source of great wealth of knowledge.
However, there are some seriously dangerous trends that have emerged due to the advancement of technology. Children spend increasingly more time watching television, playing video games or surfing the internet. Social networking sites, the newest phenomenon to hit online users, have claimed a significant number of victims, both young and old, who spend a large chunk of their time and energy on these sites. People find it easier to take shortcuts, for instance, university students can easily purchase services of writers who finish reports, assignments and even theses for a small fee. Thus in some ways procrastination and sedentary lifestyles are fast becoming popular among new generations.
Technology and Society
Technology has even changed the face of our societal norms and lifestyles today. Quality of life, especially in health and science, has been impacted quite strongly by the advent of the technological era. The increasing electrification, urbanisation, connectivity and closeness observed in different regions of the world have given a new dimension to standard of living. Healthcare has advanced fast due to the development of life saving drugs, eradication of numerous diseases, availability of cheap medicines etc which increases life expectancy and provides overall high standards of living. Advancements in science and technology as discussed earlier have altered various aspects of our lives making them indispensable.
On the other hand problems like pollution, rising population, increased waste generation and destruction of wildlife which have emerged as direct consequences of technological advancements, put great pressure on the earth’s resources. These need to be dealt with carefully in order to have sustainable development. Resources need to be conserved for the benefit of future generations and currently one of the biggest disadvantages of technological progress is that it causes heightened resource usage.
What does this all means ?
Thus the advantages and disadvantages of technology are numerous and varied, but need to be observed carefully in order to utilise this knowledge advantageously. Technology has been a great boon to mankind but at the same time we must not be ignorant of the drawbacks generated by some of these developments. Many amazing strides in technology have been made since the beginning of civilization, and more are certain to be on the horizon.