Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Paradox of Techological "Progress" - Chapter I

This is my first on a series of posts on present day Life/Technological "Progress" and my take on it

A quick glance through the history of Human Evolution reveals that the authors seem to have neglected the most important development in recent times - The practice of distancing oneself from other human beings (and hell! Other living things as well :P) and adopting a third-party, non-living and virtual channel of communication.

Human beings have come a long way - beginning with the Stone ages which saw humans employing some of the most primitive methods for survival, onto the Copper/Iron ages, where life wasnt only about survival, and now finally to the Industrial era, where life has assumed a high degree of sophistication but also a pace that is both blistering and unbelievably restricted.

And now, in the early days of this new millenia, human beings have made a transition into the "Information" era, where all communication happens through the medium of the electronic media.

A new phenomenon, ofcourse are social-networking sites like Orkut, which have experienced tremendous volumes of registrations in the past couple of years. Now, it seems, there isnt a single soul on this planet, who doesnt have his/her own space in the annals of cyber-space (either through Orkut, MySpace, Blogspot or other such services)

Orkut seems to be the rage, with the entire of our college being "connected". I must admit that Orkut is a great place to "connect" with others, to meet new people of similar thought-processes(In this regard, I hav not had much success in locating an equally eccentric and delusional procrastinator :P).

Besides, its a great platform which enables a very conducive environment for Bird-watching, of the non-avian variety ofcourse! :P .... Birds of rather rich varieties visit the place, making it one of the biggest open-air sanctuaries in the world! :P .... And we sure aint complaining!

But, on a serious note, beneath all this hi-tech networking and the blistering "progress" we claim to have made, isnt it an irony, that we started with very little than "Survival" in our minds and here we are, with the same thought of "Survival" and little else. I mean, sure we can "connect", but that connection refers to the superficial bond between two machines linked to a massive and emotionally detached network that we call the Internet.

The Stone Age was all about surviving and in many ways, the "modern information age" is all about survival. Our educational institutes produce an astronomical number of Engineers/Doctors etc, who are all brainwashed into taking up these courses/jobs by a society which has tasted the fruits of economic liberalization too soon, too fast and which now pursues money as a major objective of life. We live in a world, that seems to have lost its value systems and exists more on political spin and marketing than on concrete evidence and/or content. Human life has become a kind of a packaging, where presentation assumes greater importance than the content within. We choose to hide the naked truth under cloaks of sophisticated lies about how technology has helped us to evolve and connect.

Amid all the technological sophistication, isnt it ironical, that more and more people are taking on suicidal tendencies. A recent U.N. report indicates that more people die of suicides than of muders! Now thats a statistic which shocks! In the process of making life "simpler" and the world "smaller", we seem to have forgotten that life is after all a pursuit of one's principles and ideals and that its all about seeking happiness. How can you explain the increasing number of people taking recourse to modern-day 'spiritual gurus/babas', in an effort to seek the "meaning" of life in a terribly fast-paced and at the same time, a seemingly absurd world.

In more ways than one, the pre-modern era had a much more enriching and wholesome view of life than today's computerized and impassionate world. Yes, one might say that those were the days of violent rituals and absurd beliefs, but they were also the days of simple but profound living.

In many ways, there is a need to revive old value systems - lets do away with the superstitions, but adopt the wholesome and simple ideologies that make life a whole lot simpler than current technology would ever be able to achieve.

Some notable quotes that parody technology:
"The drive toward complex technical achievement offers a clue to why the U.S. is good at space gadgetry and bad at slum problems." - John Kenneth Galbraith

"Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons." - R. Buckminster Fuller

"I like my new telephone, my computer works just fine, my calculator is perfect, but Lord, I miss my mind!" - Author Unknown

"I think I should not go far wrong if I asserted that the amount of genuine leisure available in a society is generally in inverse proportion to the amount of labor-saving machinery it employs."
- E.F. Schumacher

"If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger." - Frank Lloyd Wright

"The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers." - Sydney J. Harris

And My favourite - the Best of 'em all:
"Technology... the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it."
- Max Frisch


Mahalakshmi said...

hey first of all ...vry nice post...u write really well...

now abt the post....i totally agree with u abt simple ideologies that we should adopt.

got a good quote on technology which also holds true...

Technology is a gift of God. After the gift of life it is perhaps the greatest of God's gifts. It is the mother of civilizations, of arts and of sciences.
Freeman Dyson

its all about using technology in the right way.

nandu said...

Brilliant post dude..the quotes r just amazing...m waiting for chapter2

Rajiv Iyer said...

@Mahalakshmi - hey, first of all, thx 4 the appreciation and thx 4 takin the time to visit this crappy blog! :P .... now onto more serious matters, very good quote u got there - I agree with u ki if tech is used properly, its a tool 4 the empowerment of society .... but unfortunately, from the world I see, its not happening .... hopefully, we start using technology more meaningfully, but then thats just a prayer (sorry 4 sounding so pessimistic :P)

Rajiv Iyer said...

@Nandu - thx a lot - Chapter 2 will take time :P .... saala dont get time 4 all this philosophy and demented thinkin too often, but will post soon :D

priya said...

the 4th world war will be fought wih the help of stones said sir winston churchill..profound ,,more so ...scary..

"total mind-chow" was ur blog's USP..cliched n boring is it???!!(thats psychedelic's paradise for u!!)well to each his own..

Rajiv Iyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

hi...nice blog...m just a casual ur take on technology n completely agree how alienating it is...but just a suggestion...cudnt it b written on a lighter note...just that technology as a topic is heavy enough...otherwise good work!

Rajiv Iyer said...

Thanks a lot 4 taking the trouble to visit and do visit regularly ....

As far as ur suggestions are concerned, I agree that perhaps a touch of comic relief would not have done any harm .... so will consider it before I come up with future posts .... the topic itself was a little serious, but thx nyways