Introduction: We are often told that we are living in a technological age. But, is this good for us? To help you to navigate through the thorny issues raised by advancements in technology, we have created a useful list detailing 10 merits and demerits of technology.
What is the meaning of technology?
The word ‘technology’ comes from the Greek word ‘techne’ which means ‘craft’ or ‘skill’ and the word ‘logos’ which means ‘knowledge’. So, technology is a combination of knowledge and skill. The proper definition of technology refers specifically to the machines and devices that are created as a result of scientific knowledge.
One example of a technology, then, is a mechanized sewing machine. Here, knowledge about metals and their properties, electricity and so on are used to create a practical device: the sewing machine.
Technology is all around us. Perhaps you are reading this article on yet another technological device: a laptop, tablet or mobile phone.
However, what is the impact of technology on our world? Read on to discover 10 merits and demerits of technology – we are sure that by the end of this article you will have a firmer opinion about technology!
Merits of Technology.
1. It makes life easier.
When electric washing machines replace exhausting hand washing techniques, and when mechanized railways replace long journeys by foot, people often say that here we have some prime examples of technology making people’s lives materially better. Technology does this by relieving us of tiring and time consuming jobs!
2. The pace of life gets faster.
Why wait for a letter to arrive when you can send an email instantly? Why spend a couple of weeks paddling yourself across the sea when you can fly in a few hours? Technology means that we can achieve all of our aims in record time!
3. We can stay connected with others.
Before technologies such as the telephone, the railway and the internet, people could feel pretty isolated from the world around them. Now, all that we need to do is to open the laptop lid or hop on a bus or train and we will be chatting with our friends in no time.
4. Technology saves lives.
In emergency situations, a cellphone can spell the difference between life or death – one quick call and help will be on its way. Other technologies, such as search and rescue helicopters, also work to save lives, day in and day out.
5. Keeping food fresh, and cooking it thoroughly.
We reduce our risk of disease thanks to technologies such as refrigerators, freezers and electric ovens. Nowadays, many people have these appliances in their own homes.
6. Disseminating knowledge.
Technologies like e-readers, computers, news broadcasts and podcasts enable us to absorb as much knowledge as we like. It could definitely be argued that technology makes us smarter!
7. Voyages of discovery.
Science and engineering have created technologies that have put human beings on the moon and also sent them to the bottom of the ocean. Technology could even enable us to live on other planets one day.
8. Technologies in medicine.
New machines for treating illnesses or screening for disease have dramatically increased our life expectancies, enabling us to live longer, healthier, happier lives.
9. Bionic limbs.
New technologies have enabled amputees to have limbs that move and even feel like limbs of flesh and blood. In fact, many bionic limbs are improvements on the ‘natural’ version!
10. Getting you up in the morning.
Where would we be without that alarm clock (and its snooze function) to get us ready for work each day?
Demerits of Technology.
1. Replacing jobs.
Workers sometimes complain that when a machine starts being able to do their job for them, they themselves become necessary. When a worker loses their job because that job is now done mechanically, how will they earn their wages?
2. Making us lazy.
Sitting on the computer all day, not bothering to stir a foot outside: it could be argued that technology has turned us into sluggish couch potatoes.
3. Stopping us from appreciating the natural world.
Has the desire to acquire the latest gadget – and then to sit in front of it for as many hours as is humanly possible each day – caused us to lose our appreciation of the beauty of nature? Step outside and you will see gorgeous sunsets, majestic mountains and winding rivers – all for free.
4. Bad for our health?
Studies have shown recently that a sedentary lifestyle can be a big health risk. Is sitting hunched over a computer all day bad for our health as well as for our posture?
The drive for cheap technology, and for new technologies to be available rapidly (as consumers crave the latest gadgets) has led to some workers being exploited in terms of their working hours, working conditions and wages.
6. Bad for the environment.
Factories making gadgets, rocket launches, airplanes taking off and so on all release CO2 into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.
7. Potential for harm.
Scientific knowledge should only be used for the good of humanity. However, some technologies have been seized on by people who want to do harm: technology has been used to create sophisticated weapons, for instance.
Governments can watch us through our laptops, and people can hack into our cellphones and listen in to our private conversations. The more technologies we use, the more open we are to covert surveillance!
9. Consumer culture.
As our culture becomes more technological, we find ourselves driven to spend our hard earned cash on new gadgets and devices that, perhaps, we do not strictly need. Is technology one of the main tools of consumerism?
10. Losing touch with traditional ways of living.
Are we losing the beauty of hand woven clothing, hand ploughed fields, and an overall simpler way of life thanks to the fast pace of technology?
Technology has made life faster and more efficient. But it has also had a significant impact on the environment, and may cause us to lose touch with what really matters: family rather than gadgets, natural beauty rather than the images on our laptop screen.
Perhaps the way to think about technology is this: it can be used for good or for ill, so it is important to ensure that when we engage with technology we do so in a way that is responsible in terms of the environment, our relationship with others, our finances, and our own health.