Fandango has asked an excellent Provocative Question this week – Is technological advancement a net positive or a net negative?’
As with most major technological advancements throughout history leading to a paradigm shift in the way we experience the world we live in, there are always good things and bad things to be considered when deciding on whether or not the long-term good outweighs the short-term bad in our relatively nascent electronic/ digital age.
The problem with the concept of progress of any kind is that there are always winners or losers at the end of the day. Look back to the Industrial Revolution here in the UK when factory machinery on one hand ruined the livelihoods of individual cottage-industry cloth-making family enterprises but on the other hand, brought about a huge economic boom for the country as a whole. The Luddites physically attacked the new machinery, and this lead to the introduction of the Riot Act.
Then there was the introducion of the railways, of electricity, of the motor car, of airplanes, of television and the telephone, of space travel – all considered dangerous scary threatening stuff to begin with, yet all taken for granted and easily accommodated in everyday life today.
Part of the difficulty with living in the electronic age (in my opinion, anyway) is that it’s the creative young people who have seized on the possibilities of all this new technology and have run away with it, faster than any previous generation has been able to envisage, towards frontiers and futures never before considered. And there’s where we hit the biggest problem – kids can do stuff with technology parents can’t even imagine.
There is therefore a huge dissonance between this younger generation of fast-paced digital visonaries and the slower-moving mechanically-minded older generations – particularly the Government – who are generally the people responsible for ruling (or not) on suitable legislation to control the use of these new technologies they hardly begin to understand the complexities of themselves.
So inevitably we end up with the serious grown-up issues of digital security and identity fraud, with drones delivering contraband to prisons or disrupting flights at a major airport – for example today at Gatwick Airport, as we speak. Or Russian Hackers infiltrating FaceBook under the radar, and US Senators questioning Mark Zuckerberg without having one iota of an idea of how FaceBook even works…
But as ever this period of confusion and consternation will pass soon enough – the non-digital dinosaurs will become extinct and everyone will soon forget what life was like before computers… Well, that’s me added my tuppence-worth to the ongoing debate, anyway… 🙂