, Research Paper
“Technology: Friend or Foe”?
As we approach the new millenium, it has become obvious that more than ever before, we need technology. And yet every new technology places new demands upon us creating new forms of frustration and stress. We can not live with it, but we can not live without it. If we fail to conform ourselves, will we remain the ignorant victims of the computer age? Will we become its slave? This is the focus of this paper.
We have learned from our readings that the Luddites learned about the technology that was being abused in their time. They worked on the cotton gin machines and were skilled technicians. They understood that it was not the power of a useful machine they were fighting but the power of those who mismanaged it. The same can be said for the management of computer technology. There is not doubt that computer technology has become central to the operation of global multinationals, financial markets, security surveillance, and as well as everyday life. There is little we can do with a computer interface device that will preserve our identity. Governments acting as a global police force protecting us from ourselves can easily monitor the electronic trail of commands and transactions.
Perhaps the Luddites could see farther into the future than anyone suspected. With regards to the downfall of technology and the role it would play on people’s lives, as they became dependent upon technology for survival. Let’s take for example the huge technological dilemma of the fast approaching twenty-first century; the issues
surrounding Y2K. It has been feared that people’s lives will be totally devastated, as the technology they have grown to depend on will suddenly fail them on January 1, 2000. It is thought by many that all of the technology that we have come to depend upon for survival will cease to function successfully. The cars which we depend on for travel, the coffee we depend on to start our day, the electronically controlled furnaces we depend on for heat, and the elevators we depend on to bring us to work will suddenly fail us all together. Even the traffic lights will become chaotic as the computers that control them will be tricked into believing it is January 1, 1900. Even the great mastermind computer programmers of our time could not think of anything more than a band-aid solution to the transportation problem. It appears that the Transportation Department of the City of Calgary will solve their traffic light dilemma by tricking the computer system that controls the traffic lights into believing it is January 1, 1972. Obviously this band-aid solution will not solve all problems, as this will still be a problem for the next generation of transportation programmers. It appears as the New Millenium fast approaches we need to return to an age that does not depend on technology for survival. People are concerned that since no technology is reliable enough to survive the Y2K dilemma that we will have to return to the ways of our ancestors for survival during this time of technological uncertainty. Heaven forbid if we could not get a fresh loaf of bread from our technologically advanced breadmakers.
Information technology is a valuable extension of our power of perception and reasoning, but when we rely on it exclusively it has a debilitating effect. When we were first confronted with this new technology it absorbed all of our human resources in order to learn and adapt to the magnitude of this new technology. Many of us overextend ourselves and become obsessive allowing computers to consume all of our attention; therefore, losing our perspective of reality and purpose. If this remains the permanent attitude resulting in the overextension of our own resources, which this technology was meant to serve, then we have become the servants of this technology.