We’ve all seen, or at least have heard about, the action movie Terminator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the movie, robots become so powerful that they end up using weapons and force to try to take over the human race. It ends up becoming an all out war. Humans vs Robots. That doesn’t sound like a very bright future to live in. Yet, many people speculate that this is the type of scenario we are heading into with all of the new AI technology being developed every single day. Others say that technology has helped humanity with some of the most important inventions and events in history, including the early findings of electricity, to the now privately funded space exploration companies such as SpaceX launching their own rockets and satellites into space. Now the question still to be answered: Is technology good for us or bad for us and where are we headed?
How is technology good for us? Technology has done many wonderful things, such as give us means of transportation worldwide, help advance medicine, give us ways to communicate and even surf the web. Technology in medicine has become so advanced in the past 200 years that it has just about doubled the average world life expectancy. In 1800, the average life expectancy in Europe was 35-40 years old, while “today’s life expectancy in Europe is about 73 years old.”(Griffin) Some of the many wondrous technologies that have been created to improve the healthcare system include X-ray machines, prosthetic limbs, and electronic medical records. All of these are used in the medical field daily. People used to die from the common cold in the 1700’s, now people are beating cancer because of all of the new research tools and lab work and medicines that humans have created.
Besides healthcare, technology has helped humans create a wide variety of things to help us in our everyday lives. We take a lot of things we use daily for granted such as cars, cellphones, and even running water. Running water may not seem like a huge deal now because a lot of the living generations grew up with running water, but back when people were throwing their waste in the streets, running water was a life changing technology for them. According to the World Health Organization, “87 percent of the world’s population gets their drinking water from safe and secure sources.” (World Health Organization). Furthermore, it has never been easier than now to communicate with someone, whether they are a mile away or halfway across the world. Now it takes a phone call to contact someone no matter where they are in the world, when a couple centuries ago, it would have taken months to send a letter to someone who was across the world. In 2016 approximately “62.9 percent of the world population had a cellphone with mobile data.” (Statista).
As much as technology is helping our quality of life, it is also taking it away from us as well. “The average life expectancy in the United States in 2040 is projected to decline about 20 spots in the world ranking”(Chavez). This huge decline is due to the massive influx of obese people, especially obese children. Although we will be projected to gain 1.1 years of life by 2040, other countries are projected to gain 5 or more years of life(Chavez). Technology plays a huge role in this situation because it is simply making us lazier than ever. With entertainment like youtube and video games being easily accessible through things such as tablets and smartphones, a lot of children in adolescents, about 42 percent who use a tablet or smartphone daily(Odgers), no longer feel the need to go outside and play. Also, with apps such as ubereats and postmates, you no longer need to leave your house to get food.
Not all technology created has been good. There have been unimaginable tragedies of war and other horrific events that have come from the smartest minds in the world, such as Wernher Von Braun, who was forced to create things such as bombs and nuclear weapons. “Wernher Von Braun created the famous V-2 ballistic missile in 1937”(Harbaugh),which has been estimated to kill upwards of 30,000 civilian deaths in London, England in World War 2(Harbaugh). Chemical warfare has evolved immensely, and it has not been for the better. The first use of widespread chemical warfare was mustard gas in World War 1, which was visible to the eye and you could smell it. Now countries are creating chemicals that are invisible and odorless which is very dangerous as it can be used any time and no one would know. We also have the technology of unmanned drones that are carrying strikes from someone that is halfway across the world and almost always have civilian casualties. Scientists are creating robots every day, some of these robots are able to operate weapons systems. Scientists are getting closer and closer to creating real life terminators. If this is where the new age of war technology is headed, the future is going to be very scary.
Where We Are Headed
Scientists are also creating AI technology and creating more and more every day. Imagine a robot who can think for itself, and essentially be the smartest thing alive since it would have an unlimited amount of knowledge resources from the internet. What happens when the AI technology discovers it is smarter than humans? What happens if someone is able to hack into the AI and give it the wrong ideas or turn the AI against humans? We simply do not know because the technology is so new and we do not know the limits of the technology.
Another huge issue related with the internet is the new age of cyberbullying and hacking. In 2016, suicide attempts caused from cyberbullying increased by 8.7 percent in high school students. In 2011, 15 percent of parents reported that their child had been cyberbullied. In 2016, that number jumped to a staggering 35 percent. (Edmund) These are only the reported numbers, imagine how many kids are getting cyberbullied without their parents knowledge. Cyberbullying is becoming an epidemic that is causing children to self harm and even commit suicide.
Overall, technology has the power to save lives and make everyday life easier, but it also has the power to hurt us and even take lives. It all depends on how technology is being used and which direction it is being pushed. Depending on how we use technology, we could be a super advanced civilization or we could end ourselves with war and destruction. It is up to us to decide our fate.
Chavez, Robert. “U.S. Life Expectancy Rankings to Drop By 2040.” Health.com
Edmund, Eric “WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Report 2010.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 29 Aug. 2016.
Griffin, J P. “Changing Life Expectancy throughout History.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, The Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Dec. 2008
Harbaugh, Jennifer. “Biography of Wernher Von Braun.” NASA, NASA, 18 Feb. 2016,
Odgers, Candice. “Smartphones Are Bad for Some Teens, Not All.” Nature, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 22 Feb.