“Is technology good or bad?” This is one of the age-old philosophical debates of our time. Two rival schools of thought exist on the issue, and it has raged for decades. A look back in history helps us to make sense of it all.
The first argument in favor of “good” tech involves the idea that technological progress is necessary for progress to occur. Without advanced technologies, no one could produce anything, since the tools for doing so were not available. Without humans, there would be no art, no literature, no motion pictures, no computer chip manufacturers, no GPS systems, no internet service providers, no telephones, no automobiles, no television sets, no cars, no airplanes, no communication systems, no medicine, no communication satellites, no communications towers, and so on. Without the tools and abilities necessary for the human race to survive and flourish, there could be no progress, and everything else simply would not be possible.
The second school of thought on this question considers the possibility of future technologies that eliminate human interaction completely. In some cases this theory is referred to as the “singularity,” and refers to the idea that human life will be replaced by computers. The proponents of this view argue that we are already facing a Singularity, with computers controlling our minds, bodies, and societies; and that we need not waste precious time worrying about whether or not this eventuality is good or bad. To them, the answer is simple: if it is bad, then it must be good, and if it is good, then it is no different from any other kind of technology, such as driverless cars, flying cars, or microwaves that can take food from a nearby lake and cook it without fuel.
Proponents of technological progress feel differently. To them, the future holds many promises, and we have lived in the past to witness its disastrous effects. The fear is that as technological advances continue unchecked, our ability to control our physical habitat will lessen, and that could create chaos in the world population, something that could bring down civilization as we know it. If humans fail to address the issues of pollution, depletion of natural resources, and climate change, then we could face annihilation. If we look at history, we see that mankind has always gone through cycles of prosperity and decadence; perhaps we need another go around to make things right again.
As these differing points of view present themselves to you, it becomes easier to decide if there is anything good about technological progress. The first argument made by people who are against technological growth is that it could create mass starvation and World War III. Other opponents argue that advanced machines may enable terrorists to use driverless cars to attack our soft targets. It is interesting to note how often opponents of science and technology raise the specter of nuclear holocaust to scare us into avoiding development of new technologies. Is all of this paranoia or does it have some basis in fact?
Is technology good or bad? Well, whether or not it is good or bad depends on your point of view. Personally, I would say that it all depends on what perspective you are looking at it from. If you want to know whether technology is good or bad for you in particular, then you need to examine what it has done for those around you and what it might do for you in the future.
Perhaps, the most important question to ask yourself when asking, “Is technology good or bad?” is this: What would you like to have as a result of technology? Would you like to be able to surf the Web, send emails, play computer games, watch movies, listen to music, or have access to a stock market? If so, then you are likely to be pro-technology and see its positive effects on your life.
If, on the other hand, you think life would be better without technology, then you are likely to be averse to the idea of having it. You may even be anti-tech and see its negative effects on your life. The best way to look at it is this: what is technology? It’s just a tool, like breathing air, and we use them every day without thinking about it. Do we really need them, or is there something better? Only you can decide what is good or bad for you.