It’s 2010 and the human species as we know is in a monumental technological crossroads. Globally, we have defined the age of technological and industrial growth. As a whole our society has always been improving on all of the technological inventions to provide the general public with seamless automated and convenient applications to our personal and work life. In the age of pin size microchips and artificial intelligence the sky is the limit to our advancement of faster and more integrated technology. We as a society have embraced all of the new technological advancements and have integrated it throughout all aspects of human life. This over reliance on technology has taken away an aspect of human interaction that is vital to the way we have conducted ourselves in the past.
It brings up many questions about the role technology is playing in our everyday lives. We seem to be on the constant search for ways that reduce the time worked. I-phones, Blackberry and other communication devices are always getting faster and more integrated. Specifically, the I-phone has applications that can be downloaded pertaining to just about anything. There is an application that can be downloaded that connects your I-phone to your house’s burglar alarm as well an application that can cipher passwords for alarm systems as well. Yes, I agree that this is the direction we have been catapulted in and it seems like there is not a safety net for us.
Reliance on technology simply means that our personal world cannot function without the use of technological devices. According to a study done by National Public Radio, 68% of Americans say that they use a computer on the job. Of those 68%, 84% say that the use of a computer is crucial to their job being completed. (Mcphilson)
A great example showing how technological advancements have taken away the human interactive experience involves the insurance industry. According to an article by Ara C Trembly, he explains how new customer service technology implemented by the major insurance companies across the United States has failed to live up to the satisfaction of the majority of these companies clients. He states “For example, at the beginning of this decade. Customer relationship management (CRM) technology was all the rage in insurance circles with carriers falling over each other trying to get (CRM) systems implemented within there companies. As many now know, (CRM) was-on balance- a colossal flop in the insurance industry. It was a fully automated system that led clients through a corn maze of automated directions for the client. This idea was not accepted by the customers as a whole. It caused great confusion and landed most of the companies in hot water with there clients.” (Trembly)
The main reason for the (CRM) failure was the lack of guidance for the clients and not being able to connect to a live representative in a timely manner to discuss there financial inquiries. The program was doomed from the beginning. What the insurance industry failed to realize was that the same visceral human interactive experience that secured the clients in the first place was being replaced with a robotic voice that cannot be spoken to. The public in general rejected this technological advancement due to a lack of human interaction.
Further defending the viewpoint that over reliance on technology can be detrimental, an article by Shankar Vedantam explains what he describes as the “automation paradox”. He shows how disaster may erupt from over reliance on technology meant to minimize human error. Although, mainly addressing automated systems such as cruise control, he cites a cruise ship accident in which crewmembers were so trusting of their GPS that when the device accidently disconnected, the crew did not notice and simply followed the emergency plan route. He says “The problem is when individuals start to over trust or become complacent and put too much emphasis on the automation.” (Marcellus)
It shows how we have become so reliant on technology especially, GPS, that we are not trained to detect if the information being relayed to the transmitter is correct or not. Back in the old maritime days before GPS and radar were available the captains and crew of all of the big ocean liners were well versed in charting maps, currents and reading compasses. The innovation of radar and sonar helped the skippers chart there courses more precisely. The invention of GPS basically allowed for complete course charts with limited crew interface.
The GPS program would chart, estimate fuel consumption and engage in autopilot so the duties of the maritime crews changed. The training is now eased with the use of computers and GPS. The real math calculations and degree settings that the crew would work as a team to produce is now being produced in seconds, not always correct I may add by a microchip and satellite. Humans are regressing in education and knowledge due to the over reliance on computers and technology.
We seem to be embracing all of these technological advances without fully understanding the long term ramifications of this decision. We are constantly seeking out short term gains and improvements without really taking into consideration the whole big picture for future generations. As the absolute most vital connector we own, our computer as a tool is an amazingly useful aid. It has helped architects and engineers design and provide more reliable, interesting structures and buildings. It has allowed us to split atoms and categorize the human genome. Completely take the guesswork out of business intelligence and product demand curves. It even allows us to exchange money in the form of bits and bytes instead of actual paper money changing hands. As a foundation for an important economic pillar in our country we may heading for trouble. It is well known in the IT community that any computer can be hacked into.
A question arises with amount of trust that you should put into this technology knowing that at any moment your computer could compromised by hackers and wrongdoers. We as a society have reached our capacity on our electrical grids. Being so reliant on electricity to run all of our new technological devices it sounds like a rather simple idea on how to bring down a modern day society. Cut the electric off. Talk about being thrown back into the early 1800’s real quick. As our thirst for electricity increases and our infrastructure fails to keep pace with demand we will be ultimately be forced to live like the pre-electric 1800’s era people. We as species have become very sedentary and non motile with all of our technological devices that make our lives easier but less interactive. The price we pay as a society will be enormous. Instead of trying to make our lives easier we should be developing ways to make the species as a whole more adaptative to new technology without losing the human interaction. (Technology Reliance)
Maybe when it is all said and done we should have taken some meaningful advise from our Amish brother and sisters. According to an article by James Surowiecki of Technology Review “Amish people are less likely to have depression and are consistently happier than the rest of society. This is partly due to the strong community ties ,stable families and unchanging faith. Not believing in modern technology such as the Amish people believe made for reliance on there fellow man instead of a Blackberry. Towns would get together and build houses for the residents and providing what was needed to maintain a fruitful happy life. (Surowiecki)
The Amish people make for a strong argument that technology does not have to be over relied upon. In conclusion, technology as we know and understand it is always compounding on itself. We as a society need to embrace the advancements of our great inventors but never forget the process it took to get that point. Technology without education is pointless. We can overcome this dilemma by not letting education standards go by the wayside while our technology races to infinity.
Works Cited Page
Marcellus, Jill. “Misled by GPS, Careless Drivers Reveal Dangers of Over-Reliance on Technology.” 30 July 2009. finding Dulcinea. . Mcphilson, Susan. National Public Radio. 28 July 2010. .
Surowiecki, James. Technological Reveiw (2010).
Technology Reliance. 6 July 2010.
Trembly, Ara C. “Over Reliance on Technology is an Ever-Present Danger.” 18 August 2009: 2.
Personally, I didn’t think that people were overly dependent on technology until I saw a photo on Google images. It was a photo of people on a subway station platform. Featured were people standing up and sitting down waiting for the next subway train. Every single person on the picture was looking down at their mobile phone, and the caption on the image said, “2014 Zombies.” This image stuck a cord with me, and suddenly I started to notice just how overly dependent we are on technology.
Now I notice how dependant we are on technology on a daily basis. I saw an episode of South Park a few years ago where the Internet goes down. The episode is called “Over logging” and it shows a world without the Internet. It shows in a comical way about how over dependant we are on the Internet, for everything from news reports to contacting people at work. It exaggerated the point for comic effect, but the fact that people couldn’t find out why the Internet went down because they get their news from the Internet was a very good point.
People use their phone and the Internet these days for everything from paying their bills to finding the nearest gas station. Take away these luxuries and people will have a hard time adjusting back to buying everything from retail outlets and having to go to registered businesses to pay their bills, or worse yet, having to mail a check to the billing companies.
Transport is another example of how we have become overly dependent on technology. People use cars and public transport to get to work. As a result, commercial and industrial sectors are much bigger and residential structures are further away. The availability of transport has pushed housing so far from peoples’ places of work that people are forced to rely on technology such as cars and public transport in order to get to work.
Technology has changed the dynamic in developed world homes. Women are able to work, partially because of the women’s rights movement, and partially because of technology. If it were not for technology, then at least one person would have to stay home to help care for the kids and fix the house, but now we may have a washing machine do all the work so that someone doesn’t have to spend hours hand washing, and a TV and games console means kids do not need watching because they can entertain themselves.
The use of technology has manufactured our dependence on it. The fact that people use the Internet so much has made communication via the mail and even via the phone a lot less common and it has consequently led to it being used less and less. The overuse of the Internet has made it so that people do not have to go to retail outlets. The use of transportation other than walking a cycling has led to homes being further away from work so that people are forced to use cars or public transport. By using technology, people are having alternative options removed from them. People are forced to use technology because it is popular, ergo alternate methods were removed and choices were limited/restricted. All of this has lead to a dependence on technology.