It is difficult for anyone in today's world imagine the daily experience of previous generations. Advancements in medicine, agriculture and, perhaps most importantly, the transfer of information have transformed our world and our way of life for the better in many ways. However, many of the dangers and downsides of the times are also the result of the rapid development of new technology. Here are just a few examples of how the technologies designed to help humans thrive also have come to pose a serious threat.
Decreasing Intellectual Independence
New technology may make everyday life more convenient, and may relieve much of the mental stress the average human has to undergo in a given day. However, our increasing dependence on modern devices for everyday tasks is a cause for concern. A new generation of young people is being introduced to a world where certain skills just don't seem necessary and, therefore, may be overlooked. For example, the advent of satellite navigation has meant that anyone who can afford a GPS device may seldom need to rely on their own sense of direction. Basic mathematical skills are quickly lost when calculators and computers step in to do computations for us, as demonstrated by the growing number of people who whip out a cell phone in a restaurant to calculate a fair tip at the end of a meal. Many cognitive skills have been outsourced to modern technology, and in the absence of all our gadgets, we might find ourselves vulnerable and inept.
The Risks of Medical Technology
There is no doubt that modern medicine has allowed humans to live longer and more comfortably than ever before. However, there are numerous examples of the dangerous results of recklessly embracing modern medicine. The overuse of antibiotics has led to new strains of bacteria that do not respond to antibiotic treatment. The Centers for Disease and Prevention issues warnings against taking antibiotics for viral infections, failing to use all of an antibiotic prescription or reusing old antibiotics. Similar concerns are growing over the excessive use of antibacterial soaps and hand sanitisers. Another controversial effect of medical technology is the increasing number of young people being mediated for both depressions and attention-deficit disorder. The eagerness of modern society to prescribe drugs without full knowledge of their long-term effects has become a serious danger.
The Negative Side of Internet Communication
While the Internet provides an unprecedented opportunity for individuals to connect and share information, it also takes the concepts of slander and bullying to a new level. The death of teen Tyler Clementi in September 2010 after his roommate uploaded private footage of him to the Internet demonstrates how the malicious use of modern technology can ruin, and even end, lives. Internet libel, wherein false information harmful to an individual or company's reputation is published on the Internet, is an increasing concern as more of the world gains daily access to this powerful publishing tool.
Unsustainable Practices and Environmental Risks
While modern technology and the mechanisation of nearly every industry has meant an increase in production, it also has done serious environmental damage as the increasing threat of smog, acid rain and global climate change demonstrate. A prime example of unsustainable modern practices is the American food system, which relies on technologies, such as large-scale mechanical pesticide applicators and the genetic modification of plants, to produce food products cheaply and quickly. Increasing concern about the vulnerability of genetically modified organisms to disease and other environmental pressures, excessive oil consumption of the food economy, dangers of tainted meat and the pollution resulting from pesticide use is prompting people to reconsider these supposed blessings of technology.