Technology is wildly overrated.
As a person who has spent most of his life surrounded by technology and who makes a living through technology, I constantly see people making the mistake of placing too much confidence in the power of technology.
I am not saying technology is bad, or useless. Nothing is further from the truth. What I am saying, is that if we think technology is the cause or the solution to what are essentially human problems, then we are really overestimating its power and headed for disaster.
Technology cannot solve human problems. A young person who lacks focus and is easily distracted, will not suddenly become a productivity ninja because she bought an iPad and downloaded productivity apps.
A student will not suddenly become attentive and excited about learning because his cellphone has been taken away from him.
In both cases, the problems and solutions do not lie with technology, but within the people themselves.
Yet, we still find people developing new and “revolutionary” technologies that promise to solve serious problems, but in reality solve nothing.
Case in point: Nissan recently unveiled boardroom chairs that, at the touch of a button, automatically arrange themselves neatly under the boardroom table.
While this is an impressive feat, it also raises a huge concern, not about technology, but about human behaviour. Taking a closer look, this technology is actually compensating for bad manners and a serious lack of discipline, where people fail to replace their chairs after a meeting.
Do we really need technology to accomplish something that is as effortless as pushing a chair back into its place? On a similar note is a robot that was recently demonstrated by a Japanese company funded by Toyota, that basically picks up after children and neatens up their rooms.
The technology in the robot is nothing short of impressive.
However, we really need to ask if we will be doing our kids any favours by absolving them of their responsibilities – or are we nurturing bad behavioural patterns?
As the human race, we’ve done extremely well for ourselves in the past century, and are far better off than our forefathers were.
Thanks to scientific and technological advancements, we are better-educated, enjoy a better quality of life, are more well-fed, work less than they did, and have much more leisure time.
There is a caveat: we are now dealing with a unique set of societal problems. We often complain that people, especially the younger generations, are constantly distracted, lack empathy, have little to no discipline, and have a sense of entitlement.
What we fail to realise is that these problems are a by-product of our immense progress, and that these are human problems that need human solutions.
Technology never was the problem, and never will be the solution.
It is merely a facilitator, and can be used for good or bad, or in the cases above, to patch up deep, underlying issues, which is tantamount to taking pain killers to cure a brain tumour.