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28 April 2011

Technology Happiness

by Mike

It has been said that “Science and Technology bring nothing to human happiness” and that “many of us are unable to perform even the simplest tasks to maintain the complex machines we depend upon for eating, communication, working and entertainment” and while to some extent they are true, we are only looking at part of the picture… Let us explore these ideas from the two extremes. I personally would define technology as any development stemming from the human mind that makes life easier or gains us abilities that we alone do not possess and science is a process to try to understand the underpinnings of the world. While not the same, they do overlap and compliment each other - using scientific theories to develop better technology and building technology to better hone scientific theories. (Note that religion doesn’t enter into this.)

If we completely ignore any technological developments ever produced we would still be naked grunting at each other and eating raw meat from the animal we have killed with our bare hands or found dead due to natural means. Weapons are a technology, clothes are a technology even verbal communication is a technology. That sounds like a fairly miserable existance to me. So clearly some technology can bring something to human happiness - just not the overload of technology we have today.

The second quote is really two arguments, that we ‘depend’ on certain machines and that we are ‘unable to maintain them’. The question is are we dependant on these machines or do we just rely and trust on their working? The answer is it depends… which machines we are talking about? Some people depend on medical machines for their life everyday, for example pacemakers but noone would die without a wii or playstation games console contrary to marketing opinion. Many of these are by-design designed such that there are ‘no user serviceable parts’ but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many open source designs for equivalent devices to many consumer goods that many people can build. But the real question should be does everyone actually need the skills to repair everything they ever use? I think not. Although you could argue that it is in our own best interests to understand (at least in the most abstract sense) the devices that we need to survive on a day to day basis - which I think is a fair point.