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Technology and Its Impact on Humanity

Abstract

In this paper, new technological developments have been discussed with special focus to the internet. Effects of the use of internet on what is truly human have been addressed and especially the negative effects. This has mostly arisen as a result of the delegation of certain aspects of peoples lives. There have been different reactions to the modern technology and specifically the use of internet with some embracing the use of internet to carry out different functions, others having a negative opinion about it while others holding a neutral opinion.

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Introduction

People have throughout the ages tried to simplify life through different means. More ways of improving the quality of life on earth are being discovered. A very common way that has been used is the use of technology. There have been a lot of technological discoveries recently and the rate at which more inventions are being made is still very high (Berg, 2009).

More new gargets are being fabricated and the existing ones are also being refurbished making the world more and more developed technologically. The issue of technological discoveries is not a very new concept because there have been numerous discoveries throughout history. From discovery of medicine like penicillin, cars, electricity and many other things which were non existent in the old age period.

Most of the technological discoveries have been applauded by people because of their ability to make life a better (TheQuestionConcerningTechnlogy, n. d). For example the invention of mobile phones has made communication to any part of the world very easy. This is a lot easier and faster compared to the use of letters and telephones were used before this discovery. The invention of cell phones is one of the major successes in technology. Many homes today do not see a need for the telephones which were not portable because all members of the family own cell phones which they carry everywhere.

Technology and discoveries

Technology is a common term in this age with too many possible definitions. According to Heidegger, it can mean a way that is used to achieve something. It can also be used to mean a human action (Adeline, 2009). The two definitions are however related because human actions are involved in achieving a certain intended goal. Part of technology is also the things which have been invented to help improve the human life by making work easier, faster and more efficient.

In the past, the use of simple stone or metallic tools was employed in carrying out certain tasks as there were no complex tools. More discoveries have continued to be made throughout generations from inventions of simple things like fire to complex things like robots. Recently, there have been a lot of discoveries which are a threat to humanity.

For example, the latest discovery by scientists of ‘Home Assistant Robot’ (HAR) was designed to help in household tasks. They can carry out the not so complex tasks like cleaning and arranging furniture. It is amazing how the robots work because they have been made as human like as they can learn and even rectify their own mistakes (Purdy, n. d).

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There are also those robots which are capable of making breakfast and serving one the breakfast in bed. This is a step forward technologically and with this trend, we are left to wonder what scientists are going to make next. The accuracy with which these robots perform tasks that could only be done by human beings is amazing and scaring at the same time.

According to Adeline (2009), the rising trend of numerous discoveries some which are completely or partially replacing human activity has led to some fundamental questions: has technology made our lives better or it has made us worse off? Have we been doing the right thing by allowing most of our lives to be driven by technology? Is this trend leading us to be liberated or it is going to be our undoing in the long run? In this paper, these questions will be tackled as we examine a very common technological instrument that is being used by almost everyone who can access the computer, the internet.

The Internet

This is one of the most outstanding discoveries in human history. The record of existence of internet dates back to the 19th century when the computers were invented.

A series of interconnected networks is basically what internet is all about. Some services available on the internet are World Wide Web, and other communication services for example messaging services and electronic mails. The internet has been a useful tool to many people ranging from the students, researchers, business people and even ordinary people seeking for information or entertainment. By use of internet services, one can access any material required at the click of a button.

This has come with a lot of advantages and disadvantages too. With the ever increasing information available in the internet, it is threatening to become a source of destruction for what is essential in life. The major threat caused by the internet is the threat of separating people from what is truly human. In the rest of the paper, we shall examine how internet has threatened to rob people of what is truly human after understanding what ‘truly human’ exactly mean.

What does the term ‘human’ mean

The human nature is a term that can have different definitions from different perspectives. The definition differs from one religion to another and also is defined differently by philosophers. In this discussion, we will consider the human nature as those unique features found in human beings. They comprise of how an individual reasons, feels or does things.

These unique features occur naturally in all human beings. What is essentially human therefore include characteristic features like being able to communicate with each other, socialization, ability to think and invent new things, reasoning capability among other distinctive features common to human beings only.

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Internet’s contribution to loss of human qualities

Internet has undoubtedly contributed massively to loss of important human qualities. One of the ways is by increasing the distance between how people communicate and how they interact (Berg, 2009). The current trend is pointing towards a direction that physical interaction and seeing face to face as a communication strategy will be very rare or even impossible.

This is due to over reliance on the social sites like Facebook, Twitter and other electronic messaging and mail services for communication. This is a dangerous trend because socialization at a personal level is slowly being replaced by communication through the available social networks. Since socialization is one of the distinct qualities of human beings which make them distinct from animals, it becomes an issue when the quality is robbed from them by technology.

Facebook and other social networks are not entirely bad and especially when communicating with people and friends one meets but has no other way of reaching them. It becomes a menace when one uses it as a means of communicating with people who one has access to and can use other more interactive ways to communicate for example verbal communication. Meeting with people and talking to them is better than the use of internet.

Another quality that is slowly but surely being eroded by technology and especially the social networks sites is that of truthfulness and honesty Heidegger, 1977). It is not an uncommon phenomenon for people to lie when using social networks. People are comfortable lying about any aspect of their lives and mostly concerning their marital status. This has led to the disintegration of the family unit which is a very important part of the human being. The quality of being honest is therefore on the verge of disappearing from the human beings because of the use of the internet.

Although internet has been an important source for people seeking for new knowledge and information, it has been blamed for other serious problems related to generation of new information. Creativity among individuals is slowly disappearing and is being replaced by the internet to search for any material one may need even if one is in a position to generate his/her original ideas.

Due to this growing trend and especially among the scholars, the use of human mind to think and come up with useful information is declining hence fewer discoveries or copying from the already existing inventions. The question that therefore comes to mind is the fate of human beings in the coming years if things do not change (Wright, n. d). Such a way of doing things also limits the creative minds that could have come up with great inventions if they were not limited by the use of internet.

People wonder why they should go to the pains of thinking about certain important concepts when they can easily and readily find them in the internet. Everything can now be goggled and information availed immediately. Important things like birthdays, anniversaries and appointments can also be found on social networks sites like the Facebook. This has contributed to the loss of our capability to think and come up with new things as human beings which are essential qualities of being truly human.

It is odd how people would think of any one who does not have an account with the social networks as being backward. People consider such connections as big achievements and especially when one has many friends in his/her account. The question however is the importance and the value that such adds to ones life. On the contrary, one spends a lot of time in updating and commenting on peoples’ statuses instead of doing other productive works.

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This reduces an individual’s productivity in the area of work because it is very common for people to open their social networks accounts at the place of work. Cases of addiction to accessing these sites are also very common. Some people spend excessively long hours chatting with friends or doing other unimportant things in the internet or using the social networks. Again, this is harmful both to the individual and the people around him/her because it reduces the time for interaction with others gradually and makes one live in isolation and interpersonal skills and other skills necessary for living are not acquired.

It is also common for people to meet friends and start relationships through the internet. Many people are turning to the internet as a site for meeting spouses and even getting married. This is because the time one spends on the internet is too much and there is hardly enough time left for one to visit social places where there are high chances of meeting new people and interacting face to face.

The problem with relationships formed through the internet is that most of them are based on lies and many people end up being deceived into marrying the wrong people or end up losing valuables or even their lives. Since marriage is supposed to be based on fundamental human qualities like love and companionship, marriages established between people who meet through the internet are likely to lack these important human qualities.

Children have also suffered from the problems that technology has brought (Eisenstein, chapter 2). This is because parents have left the responsibility of bringing up children to technology and they hardly spend enough time with them. The strong bond that is supposed to exist between the parents and their children is longer there.

There is too much reliance on the internet for the children to learn what they should otherwise have learnt from their parents. Because of easy access to the internet by the children, moral decadence has been on the rise (Dreyfus, 1999). Cases of children accessing pornographic and other harmful information are very common. The internet therefore corrupts the good morals of the children because of the unlimited access to these sites by them.

The internet can be used as a means of getting money. This depends on the complexity of the job one does use the internet services. It is therefore possible for people to work from their homes at their convenience with many people preferring doing this. In attempt to earn more, one ends up spending more time on the internet than with the family. One also becomes separated from other people because one just works alone without any interaction with clients.

Delegation of certain aspects of our lives to technology

Initially, technological discoveries were designed to make life easier and better. For example, the internet was majorly used for research purposes and communication through emails. This was done moderately and there were few cases of misuse of these services.

No doubt these services served a very important role in communication industry by making it faster and cheaper and still do have a vital role in communication. It is very easy to reach any one in any part of the world cheaply and very conveniently (Dreyfus, 1999). Important information for any one intending to research a particular topic is also available in the internet.

However certain important aspects have been left entirely to the internet. When things which make us human, like socialization are entirely left to the internet, it becomes a major problem that needs to be addressed without delay. Internet in itself is not a problem per se, but the problem arises when there is misuse of it, which has been the case in the recent past. Such misuse is what, if not addressed promptly would lead to a technological calamity on humanity.

When vital aspects of human life are delegated to machines, we are left to wonder what would happen in case the machines fail to follow the commands given to them by human beings (Montalbano, n. d). If ever such a thing happens, it would be catastrophic for the human race which has not been so keen in addressing this problem. The dangers of such delegation are therefore very real and something needs to be done before a problem of greater magnitude than there is now arises.

People have put a lot of trust and confidence in technology and have forgotten to take care of what makes them truly human. Ignoring aspects of importance like creativity and leaving them to the internet to get any information shows great negligence and is a threat also to new inventions which are very necessary in this age.

It is important to note that this delegation is already having many negative effects on people. For example, the use of internet has been associated with increase in the rate of crimes. People have been conned and others have lost many valuables through internet crimes (Wright, n. d). There have been cases of people accessing confidential information from companies or even government agencies through the internet. Worse still, important information has been lost in some cases never to be recovered again.

These are just some of the possible problems that could arise when important aspects are delegated to technology. Other worse problems could arise if people continue with the trend of having a lot of trust in the internet and using it to carry out human activities that could be done by people themselves. This is a wake up call to the people to rethink about their opinion on the internet services and other technological advancements that are a threat to the future.

People’s reactions to advancement of technology

There have been different reactions to modern technology. Some are pessimistic about the different discoveries for example some philosophers like Herbert Marcuse see technology as having adverse effects on the society. He therefore views technology as a hindrance to people’s liberty and a cause of psychological ill health.

Other philosophers like Martin Heidegger hold the view that technology is not entirely bad but it depends with how an individual applies it (Eisenstein, chapter 2). He is of the opinion that people should not overly rely on technology to the point of it enslaving them. On the other hand, people should not shun technology and try to do things without using it because it is a helpful tool to achieving a certain desired goal and efforts to avoid it may be futile. According to Kuang, 2002), there should be a balance in the use and also in how people view technology so that it becomes a useful tool in their hands instead of being a source of destruction and enslavement.

The other question that has been raised is whether computers then can be programmed to behave like human beings. This is because it seems that this is the direction that latest developments have been heading. Otherwise how else can one describe the efforts of scientists to come up with robots which can carry out human activities very efficiently?

Programming computers to be more human may be a great challenge because computers can not perform all human functions. They can only be fed with data and commands they are supposed to obey (Wright, n. d). It is human beings who come up with facts as they try to create new things that are beneficial to them.

People are therefore responsible for organization of their world by using their creative minds to improve it. It is impossible then to achieve this kind of organization done by the human beings through other means like the use of technology. Human beings and technology need to work together to achieve a balance instead of leaving things to be done by technology alone or by use of human efforts alone which may be futile in the end.

Conclusion

Technology is a useful tool in the hands of people which helps to achieve a lot that can not be done by human means only. When used appropriately, modern technology and especially the internet can be said to be one of the best discoveries in the human history. On the contrary, technology if not used well as a servant and not a master can have devastating effects on people.

The internet for example can be very dangerous and can bring about negative effects on the society and vital values and morals. Caution needs to be taken when dealing with the modern technology, particularly the internet to avoid future problems.

Reference List

Adeline, A. (2009). Discoveries of Technologies: information about world’s latest and Smart Technologies. Web.

Berg, K. K. (2009). The Impact Of The Internet On Human Behavior. Redding: Third Door Media. Web.

Dreyfus, H. L. (1999). What Computers Still Can’t Do: A Critique of Artificial Reason. Cambridge: The MIT Press. Web.

Eisenstein. C. (2008). The Ascent of Humanity. Web.

Heidegger, M. (1977). ‘‘the Question Concerning Technology,’’ in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, trans. W. Lovitt. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1977, pp. 25–6.

Kuang, W.T. (2002). Technology, Humanity, Conscience. Philadelphia: Missionary Institute. Web.

Montalbano, D. (n. d) Humanity among Technology. Web.

Purdy, R. (n. d). The Internet: Boon or Detriment to Society? Web.

TheQuestionConcerningTechnlogy. (n. d). Web.

Wright, C. (2007). Technology could soon replace human beings on frontline. Web.

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