Will Technology ditch mankind?
These days, quite a few people ask me to write on technology, mostly the latest trends in technology. Sometimes, the subject could be very grossly limited, such as technology trends of 2019. I tried to discern the reasons for such frequent demands. Does it mean people have become more conscious about technologies now than ever before? Does it mean there are more magazines- online and offline, - focusing on technology? Does it mean mankind and technology have become inseparable?
The other day, someone remarked in my presence that man has become a slave of technology. It is the technology that decides what man should do and not the human brains. If I counter him with the argument that it is the man who invented and innovated technology and how he can become a slave of technology, it may not cut ice since he also said that man has become a prisoner of technology and that will continue forever. Going by the type of things that are happening around, can his assertions be waved off?
I thought I should analyze some of the logic he has put forward. Those ideations are not earth-shaking findings of his own. He collated some of the real-life examples that are happening around us, which I thought should be considered before dismissing or accepting his proposition. The first point he asked is how many can live without a mobile phone today. How many people in a WhatsApp or linked in, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. are known to each other. Indeed, social media has made unknowns known, despite the huge mass of land and ocean that separate them. That means the technology can deliver both tangible and intangible things to mankind, can whet his/her curiosity and make the concept of fraternity and fellowship wider and exciting. If I may say that a lot of them are getting addicted to that it may not be wide off the mark. Does it mean that they have become prisoners of technology?
Earlier people used to go for morning walk either alone, in twos and threes or in groups. Those who are accompanied by their friends or spouses talk to each other and if they walk in groups crack jokes and at times burst into wild guffaws, at times annoying fellow walkers. These days, most of the morning walkers have a headphone connected with mobile. The person either may be listening to music, prayers, news or talking to someone, depending on his/her bend of mind. There are some senior functionaries of the government and private sector, who confess that they dictate their important communications, notes and thoughts into the Google platform, which automatically get converted into words. They feel that their mind is most fertile during the morning hours and that time is most conducive to do some creative and complex works. There are yet another set of people, who try to measure every step they have covered, every calorie they burnt by using the digital health watch running again on Google platform. For them also technology is playing an important role in their day to day life.
Will the impact of these breakthrough technologies remain only on mobile telephone or transport? Not at all! Technology also builds bridges with various disciplines. For instance, mobile telephones will be the safest bet for a doctor to monitor his patients. Doctors can monitor patients through mobile telephone devices and give them advise round the clock as to what he/she should do in case of complications, prescribe medicines online after examining him or her using distance neutral modern equipment, assess his/her health parameters on a real-time basis etc. With these technologies, surgery can be done by a surgeon sitting thousands of miles away using robotics playing on console to direct the robot to carry out the instructions. Does it mean that people would no longer go to foreign lands for medical help and surgery?
The other area that would benefit from this rocket technology is disaster management. Spacecraft can be used for rescue operations, rehabilitation, extending medical care, providing scarce food articles and medicines in the event of blockades in the terrains. That way, thousands of lives can be saved, if such technologies are used judiciously. Impact on education will be much more pronounced than in other disciplines. The concepts of schools, colleges, universities etc. may undergo a drastic change. Blackboards will give way to digital tubes and flattened surfaces, where lessons by expert teachers will be beamed to classrooms or any other place, which the students decide. Those who believe that language will be a barrier in that dispensation is totally mistaken. Simultaneous translation to every conceivable language will be possible in a short time from now. The Google platforms, which are embedded in mobile phones, have already such facilities.
Does it mean, man has already become a slave of technology? That conundrum has to be explained properly to arrive at an informed conclusion. Let me take two scenarios. One, all on a sudden, the so-called internet gets affected and becomes non-functional. Your PC, laptop, or mobile or any other gadget, which are linked to the internet go dud. The only thing that you can do with your PC is to use it as a typewriter. You may have to give up your mobile telephone and switch over to fixed lines which are connected with telephone lines, like what you had some two decades back or so. What will happen to your train or plane ticket booking? Now, one can do it in seconds either sitting at home or office or any other place of your liking. In the absence of the internet, you may have to queue up near the booking office or at the travel agent’s office for hours together to get the work done.
There is also another way of looking at things. Advancement in technology is a natural phenomenon that has been happening through millennia and will continue forever. Innovation is a part of human survival and it will remain so till eternity. Every time, when mankind faced threats and uncertainty, innovations had taken place to address such eventualities. That is why many believe that during the last two World Wars, mankind suffered and benefited. It has suffered because of a huge loss of lives, properties and human miseries that were let loose. It benefited because of the huge inventions that have happened in different domains like aviation, medical science, logistics and the list go on.
Technology always balances itself. If there is a technology that let loose a destructive power, it compensates with one that has regenerative power. If technology has conquered mankind, there will be soon technologies and concepts that can liberate man from the pernicious effect of such technologies. That is a natural law and that I believe is the basis of the existence of the universe.