Impact of New Technology on Lifestyle and Health

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THE IMPACT OF NEW TECHNOLOGY ON LIFESTYLE AND HEALTH – A
PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE

Håkan Alm
hakan.alm@ltu.se
Positive impact of technology
As a start I would like to give a short and simple definition of the concept “technology”. Technology will, in this case and this paper, refer to any physical object, product, environment, or symbol that has been created by human beings. Another frequently used concept with the same meaning is “artifact” (Simon, 1969). Technology has had a great impact upon the living conditions of people all over the world. Technology has helped us to perform many tasks safer, faster, and with higher precision than would be possible without its help. Technology has also made us stronger, helped us to travel faster, and made it possible for us to perform tasks that otherwise would be impossible to perform.

With the help of technology we can perform many tasks that are dangerous for people to perform, like working in a hostile physical environment, for instance in a contaminated or radioactive environment. Technology has helped us to perform boring manual tasks day and night, every day in the week, even without a coffee brake.

Technology has made it possible for us to travel all over the world and reach new destinations, quicker than ever. Soon we might even travel to other planets in our Solar system.
The invention of machines, computers and other technological artefacts has improved our mental abilities too. Technology can make us smart (Norman, 1993) by increasing our abilities to remember better, by storing information in different formats, and support our reasoning activities. Thanks to computers we can perform complex calculations quickly, simulate processes of different kind, create art and music, and so on. Technology has also helped us to pick up information that earlier was impossible to pick up. Microscopes and telescopes, only to mention a few technological devices, have made it possible for us to look into worlds that we otherwise would not have any access to. New intelligent hearing aids have helped people with hearing deficits to pick up auditory information better and improved the possibilities to communicate with other people.

Technology can improve our abilities to control vehicles of different kind, for instance to improve the ability to steer, brake and shift gears in the car. New technology has been used to create systems that can help drivers to find new destinations, or find the quickest route to known destinations. New technology has also been developed for helping drivers to avoid collisions and other dangerous situations. Technology has made it possible to adapt cars to drivers with functional handicap so that they can drive (nearly?) as safely as drivers without these problems.

Technology can help mariners to navigate ships across the Atlantic with high precision, to assist pilots in their task of flying to selected destinations, avoid collisions in the air, control the aircraft, and so on.

Process industries, manufacturing industries, energy producing industries can today be controlled with the help of new advanced technology.
Technology has had an impact on the way we live, work, enjoy ourselves, and communicate with each other. Thanks to improved transportation systems we can now live at a distance from our working place, and commute to our job. Some of us can work from home thanks to the computer and the ability to send digital messages to different destinations. Thanks to the World Wide Web we can communicate with people at very distant places and arrange virtual meetings. We also have new ways of entertaining ourselves.

Technology in the Health sector has made important contributions to the treatment of diseases and with the help of advanced technology it is now possible to save lives in a way that was not possible only a few decades ago. In her key note, professor Axelsson has shown how technology can be used in health care. Soon it may be possible to...
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