Effects of Technology: Expected, Unexpected, Favorable & Unfavorable

Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

In this lesson, we will learn about the expected and unexpected, favorable and unfavorable effects of technology. Then see what effect this lesson has had on your knowledge with a short quiz.

The Effects of Technology

Technology can seem amazing or terrible, depending on your point of view. If you like video games, or have a big screen TV, or just had life-saving cancer treatment, you probably think technology is pretty incredible. On the other hand, if your home in the countryside just got surrounded by a growing, polluted city, or if your town is a war zone being stalked by high-tech drones, your view is probably quite different.

Technology is where we put our scientific knowledge to use for practical purpose. The truth is, technology is neither good nor bad - it just is what it is. The effects of technology are many and complex; they can be favorable or unfavorable, expected or unexpected. In this lesson, we going to go through a few of the effects of technology in each of these categories.

Favorable and Unfavorable

The effect that technology has had on modern life cannot be understated. We are surrounded by technology every moment of every day. We use technology to clean our clothes, wash our dishes, and travel from place to place. Basic technology is found in places where you take it for granted - doorknobs, locks, floor panels, paint, and furniture. These are all technology. Some are just more dramatic and impressive than others.

Even doorknobs are technology
Even doorknobs are technology

There are many examples of favorable technology. The most obvious is the medical field, where technology has saved millions of lives. We have MRI scanners that take pictures of the inside of the human body, drugs that treat various diseases, and life-support machines that keep our bodies functioning when years ago we would have died. Technology also saves ourselves time with dishwashers, washing machines, cars, and computers that do work in a fraction of the time. And thanks to the Internet, the entire world has access to free information about any topic you can imagine.

MRI scanner
MRI scanner

But technology has its unfavorable aspects too. It has led to bad sleeping habits where humans stare at screens right up until bedtime, reducing how much of the sleep hormone melatonin is released. Computers have also caused some people to be more isolated than in the past, which has the potential to be damaging to social skills. We're also becoming more sedentary, a huge risk factor for everything from cancer to heart disease. And all this technology uses up energy - it takes energy to build technological products and factories, not to mention the electrical energy generated in power plants. Those power plants and factories produce greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and other pollutants, that heat up and otherwise damage our world. And then there are weapons like drones and nuclear bombs, which have directly killed many people, and give dangerous individuals the chance to do serious harm.

Technology directly and indirectly leads to pollution
Technology directly and indirectly leads to pollution

Expected and Unexpected

The effects of technology aren't always easy to predict. Sometimes we see a change coming, and sometimes we don't. Some characters are great at predicting what would happen in the future. Certain people in the computer industry (like Bill Gates) predicted that computers would take over the workplace. Ray Bradbury predicted earbuds, flatscreen televisions, and a sense of loneliness that comes from paying attention to screens more than the people around you. Programs like Star Trek had pads that resemble tablet computers of today. And when penicillin was discovered in 1928, it caused people to look forward to a world where cures for a huge array of diseases might be found.

Old IBM PC computer
Old IBM PC computer

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