Technology and well-being do not always go together. On the one hand, innovation is intended to improve the lives of human beings, on the other, it can bring negative effects which may have a detrimental impact on their existence.
The level of benefit correlates to how the technology itself is used. Uncontrolled abuse of technology (as in many other areas of life), may cause more harm than good. Finding the right balance is something that not only the person who develops new technologies should do, but that all technology users should take responsibility for.
Technology is an instrument, not a justification
Blaming technological evolution for negative situations associated with it, is completely wrong. Innovation is a precious tool in man’s hands, but in its raw state has no positive or negative aspects. As with every instrument, it is man himself who determines its effects.
A good example of this could be technological evolution in industry over the last centuries. The introduction of machines improved production considerably, leading to increased financial well-being in the more developed countries, but at the same time creating redundancies, a reduction in job availability and tough conditions for many workers.
This illustrates two fundamental points:
- Technology is neither good not bad, but its effects depend on how it is used;
- Technology in itself is not sufficient to improve people’s lives.
Therefore, the delicate balance which decides technology’s impact on our lives is entirely determined by man’s actions and he must learn to accept this responsibility. Technical evolution is not a justification and it is not acceptable to delegate everything to the name of the ‘need for progress’.
Using technology for well-being
The first level of control over technological evolution should be carried out by governments or leaders. Several studies have in fact demonstrated how it is they who have the greatest influence over the impact (both good and bad) of technology on our daily lives.
When new working methods are introduced, such as more advanced instruments or more efficient means of reaching company objectives, there must necessarily be careful supervision, which involves the assessment of the possible effects, both in the short and long term.
The definition of a purpose is not sufficient to justify the use of a certain kind of technology if it is in conflict with the common interest. It must be used with full awareness of the facts, while taking into account every possible scenario.
It is also true however, that predicting the developments and consequences of technology is not always possible. One risk factor is therefore constantly present, but is a part of the evolution.
Social networks are a good current example. Designed as a way of encouraging the interconnection of people through facilitated communication, they have now become a by-word for social anxiety and detachment from reality.
As a consequence, an individual’s physical health can also be subjected to both the positive and negative effects of technology. Some surgical operations for example, would not be possible today without the use of sophisticated machines and robots.
How to use technology
In order for technology to bring real well-being, it is essential to educate people so that they use it responsibly. Messages or campaigns designed to increase awareness are not enough: the exploitation of certain malicious services, developed on an ad hoc basis to push users to carry out certain actions, must be reduced.
Alternatively, it could be an idea to build the relationship between man and machine more effectively, through trying to facilitate the jobs of workers, rather than replace them. It is furthermore essential to consider how to safeguard the environment, by reducing the impact new technologies may have on it as much as possible.
All interested parties must cooperate harmoniously in order to reach a balance. Only with this approach can the positive results of the use of technology outweigh the negative ones.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith