Friday, 25 June 2010

The constant march of technology

I was discussing the issue of technological progress recently with a friend. I was also reading an article on the subject by another writer, and I thought I would throw my hat into the ring on the topic in earnest.

The question centred around whether or not technological progress could or would slow down, or even make a gradual return to a less progressive era.

My own thoughts on the subject were that this is not realistic, wanted or even possible. Like science, technology moves in only the one direction - forwards. We have seen many advancements in science including medicine, space exploration, nanotechnology, quantum physics, astrology and so on.

We can barely imagine a period of time where science has not advanced rapidly. This has been for several reasons including for the pursuit of knowledge or for the advancement of the species. As we learn more, so we want to ask more questions. It's as if the very act of discovery sets off a quest for knowledge.

The more we know, the more we want to know.

Technology is no different. It's exploration and advancement are pursued with equal vigour. If we look at where we are, and where we have been, it is startling how much progress we have made in so little time. From the first transistor based computers that could fill a room, to the modern microchip that fits into your latest gadget such as your mobile phone.

Technology moves at an almost frightening pace. It is ubiquitous, everywhere, all around us. We have technology in our TVs, microwaves, cars. We can't walk down our high street without being bombarded by WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth signals as they fly around the ether above our heads.

Because of its pervasive nature, it is impossible to pull it back, to return to a less sophisticated time. We all use technology every single day, whether we realise it or not. When we make a simple withdrawal of cash from a cashpoint, we are using technology to send that transaction instantly to your bank's central computer.

Children are raised on a diet of technology. My own seven year old daughter is already proficient at taking pictures on her own mobile phone. Teenagers communicate and connect frequently using social media and technology. They no of no other existence but that which includes technology.

The question though is of what benefit would that provide if we did? What justification is there for returning to such a period in our technological history. There isn't any.

So while we may not always see the benefit of the latest techno gadget, that does not mean that we can stop the technological revolution which is at full swing as we speak.

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