The Triangle - The Independent Student Newspaper at Drexel University

Technology is treading a fine line

While I agree that technological advancements have changed lives, I detest the fact that present-day gadgets are taking over our lives instead of just enhancing them. I myself am studying to be a software engineer and am a huge advocate for the order and convenience these so-called “intelligent” devices bring to our everyday lives. But we as human beings need to be careful not to let our own creations be our doom.

Humans are as much a part of the physical world as every other inanimate object in nature and straying too far from this reality will inevitably take its toll on our health. Our lives are not meant to be spent staring at screens that give out harmful radiation or with our noses buried in phones that are getting smarter as I type these words. Because the upcoming generations do not understand this, they are getting dumber and less dependent on their own minds by the minute.

At a TedCrunch Disrupt Conference in San Francisco a few years ago, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, “Your car should drive itself. It’s amazing to me that we let humans drive cars. It’s a bug that cars were invented before computers.”

When such radical ideas are put forth by people revered in the technological world, it is not a far stretch to assume that millions of hopefuls will want to follow in their footsteps by coming up with their own astonishing creations. Now the problem with this kind of freethinking society is that very few people actually understand its future implications.

Take for example all the energy resources in the world: As humans evolved, they learned to harness natural resources and convert them into energy sources for all their artificial creations. The more humans created, the more energy they needed to keep those creations running. Now we know that at the time when this started our ancestors did not have such a profound, relevant example to cross-reference their current situation with. They had no idea of the consequences of uncontrolled excessive creation. Today, we know better. We have seen that when man’s wants surpass its needs, it results in a world crisis in terms of depleted natural resources, contaminated bodies of water and heavily polluted air. We should take some time to think about what will result if we continue with a similar approach in which we create (and eventually become dependent on) so much technology that we forget to partake in physical activity.

Entropy, a core component of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, is a measure of disorder in an isolated system. In the long run, complex and ordered arrangements actually tend to become simpler and more disorderly. Countless experiments conducted all over the world establish that the more answers we find, the more questions arise. According to these theories, this process of creation, then the discovery of more questions which will lead to further opportunities for creation, will never stop unless we make a conscious decision to curb our incessant need to want more.

Today, almost every conceivable idea concerning the advent of new technology has been implemented or is in the process of being created. To think that if our entire reality is transformed into artificially “intelligent” technology, how damaging will it be to our connection with the physical world?

Now is the time to change. We can’t undo what we have done or even stop creating new technology, but we can slow down, at least until everybody realizes that technology is a privilege and not a necessity and learns to use it that way. Today, I see people of my age and older who surround themselves with technology and forget to appreciate the beauty of physical human connection. They forget to take in the first rays of sun in the morning, or breathe in the mountain air, or marvel at the wondrous expanse of snow in the winter because they are so engrossed in their phones that they can’t even look up for long enough to notice the lamp post they’re about to walk into. There is indeed a fine line between order and chaos and we are standing on it and, with any luck, this will be as far as we get.

Meghna Malhotra is a freshman software engineering major at Drexel University. She can be contacted at op-ed@thetriangle.org.