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Technology—Bane or Boon?

By ArunPanwar Mar 27, 2011 857 Words
The overt observation of some knowledgeable persons who passionately feel concerned for the welfare of humanity, in the wake of scientific strides and technological triumphs, laments that “technology creates more problems than it solves”. Their concern echoes the similar sentiments of thinkers like J.G.Ballard for whom, “technology dictates the languages in which we speak and think. Either we use those languages or we remain mute”, and for Omar Bradley “our technology has already outstripped our ability to control it”. Despite these jarring notes, technology has acquired a halo that is almost impossible to shake off.

Who can deny the robust role and range of technology that we experience in our every day life. If we care to look at the scintillating side of technology, we find space technology and its applications provide useful data for natural disaster monitoring, solving environment problems, improve telecommunications and provide other basic services. Through fax, e-Mail and the Internet, information technology has outstripped all barriers that time and space had placed in man’s search for instant information. Though electronic information is hard to control, yet the individual newsgatherer is visible and vulnerable. The latest in the success story is the likely boom that bio-technology promises to unfold in the years to come. Rightly, biotechnology is being seen by scientists and entrepreneurs alike as the next big thing with the potential to revolutionise the fields of agriculture, health and medicine. The promises are many: disease-resistant and high-yield crops that could solve the world’s food problems; new medicines and drug delivery systems to cure diseases and prevent genetically inherited disorders; and new enzymes that make industrial production more efficient and cost-effective.

For ages the axiom, nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so, was the golden rule that moulded human perceptions and concrete actions. With the advent of science and technology, and their subsequent sway over human ideas, intuitions and ideologies, it is now ‘the use or abuse’ of technology that renders it either a blessing or a bane for humanity that lives and survives on the ever- spreading tentacles of technology. In short, it is the technology that rules the roost now and keeps its ambience alive all the time in various manifestations. With the frontiers of technology influencing all aspects of life, both in terms of time and space, it is anybody’s guess as to what the future holds in store for humanity, that has become so enamoured of technology.

If the past is any guide, one can learn a lot from the happenings of the 20th century, that used and abused scientific and technological achievements for increasing physical comforts and living standards, as also for fighting the two world wars, resorting to nuclear bombing and land mines and other means of mass deaths and destruction, dislocation of millions resulting in untold misery and suffering. In the face of so much good that we expect from science and technology, scientist warn that if we do not change our ways, our civilisation is not likely to survive.

Man’s greed, aided and abetted by science and technology, has already over-exploited and abused the earth’s material resources and destroyed its ecosystems. Forests are vanishing and there is increased desertification, the seas and oceans are stained with death because of the poisons that we have poured into them. We have even polluted the rain with poisonous smoke from our industrial chimneys. We have not only raped the soil and denigrated the ecosystems, but also lost touch with our inner self.

There is no denying that our cares and concerns are being controlled by technology, in its various forms and facets. Whether in company or in solitude, technology has come to occupy a pivotal place in our day to day life. If the despots use it to perpetuate their repressive rule, the terrorists have employed it to explode symbols of progress. With no end to man’s rapacious nature in sight, technology has become a hand-maiden of unscrupulous exploiters of natural resources and immoral traders of wild life species.

Technology as it reigns supreme over our intellect and imagination, is redefining human relations. In a bid to hit the jackpot, or make a quick buck, the individual has lost his identity and, in the bargain, has fallen an easy prey to alienation and estrangement. Smarting under physical fatigue and mental stress, he has become a victim of the phenomenon of being an “outsider” among his own people. Despite a host of benefits that technology has conferred on us in varying degrees, the onslaught of anger and angst is very much conspicuous. If today we are scared of some impending disaster, it is because technology has given such powers to individuals and groups which even the demons or deities of mythology did not enjoy.

We are standing at the threshold where technology as a source of boon or brazenness is staring in our face. In moments of introspection, we must bear in mind what Aldous Huxley had said: “technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards”.

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