Updated: Jul 29, 2021
Technology has brought many improvements in countless aspects of our daily lives such as healthcare, education, and human rights. Overall, the world, in general, has become more stable and tranquil. Let’s face it, for most people, wars in the twenty-first century are unimaginable. How many of us had to worry about wars happening? How many of us had to worry about dying from simple diseases, such as the common cold? How many of us had to rely on farming to hopefully be able to have food on our dinner plate? - I doubt that you ever had to. In other words, life has become a lot simpler and calmer.
On the other hand, these modern conveniences are also impacting society and have the potential to cause some of the most lethal natural disasters, global famines, economic crises, and even cause the majority of the world’s largest cities to submerge underwater. Thus, along with modern conveniences, it has brought many new consequences into our daily lives.
What Has Improved?
I will say that the standards of living have ameliorated. To give an illustration, the global life expectancy has now risen to 72.6 years, which is exceptional when considering the fact that, a century ago, in the early 1900s, the global life expectancy was 40 to 45 years, according to the Mortality Improvements And Evolution Of Life Expectancies.
Moreover, it has become the norm for people to graduate high school and to further pursue their studies at a university, therefore elucidating the impression that education has become more accessible than ever before. Further, another important factor of our society that has improved is human rights. In today’s world, there are a clear set of municipal, provincial, national, and international laws that everyone is obliged to abide by regardless of their race, ethnicity or gender.
In regards to the more robust legal systems, additional documents signed by many first-world nations such as the Geneva Convention and the United Nations Child Rights further help establish high humanitarian standards in our society. Along with human rights, women's rights and anti-racism have also seen improvement. Although some people still hold biased views towards women and although racism still occurs every now and then, women’s rights and anti-racism are widely taught in schools around the world and have become both legally and socially unacceptable in our society.
Besides, in today's world, one single video clip or a recording has the potential to spread to all five continents of the world in a matter of time. Not only do these kinds of videos spark tension in the online community, but it is also a matter of time before influential media companies start writing and investigating.
When this occurs, although from time to time the assailant does get away through bribery and back door dealings, it only takes a few days for articles to be seen everywhere, for netizens to start investigating the case on its own and for people to start protesting which, in turn, further provokes the government itself to start investigating the case.
Hence, as I have mentioned, with technology, it has become much easier for both victims of such crimes to express themselves in public to the world via the internet. For instance, without the invention of social media, chances are that nobody would have even known what happened to George Floyd.
Thanks to facial recognition systems, fingerprint technology, security cameras, it has made it nearly impossible for criminals to escape the law. Additionally, it seems to me that the moment crimes are committed in public or when any racial slurs are said and heard, news spreads nationwide in just a matter of time, which triggers millions of people to protest.
Likewise, we must not forget that, for most of us, we can go to a local grocery store to buy anything we want at an affordable price. We do not even have to cook our own food thanks to microwaves and frozen foods. Nowadays, with inventions such as voice assistants and home automation systems, it practically does everything for you, from turning on your lights, closing your blinds, to ordering your meals, beverages, and even buying your clothes. Moreover, all of your food is refrigerated and chores such as dishwashing, cleaning, and laundry that would have taken a whole day a few decades ago are now done by automated machines.
Contrarily, the new modern conveniences and the rate technology is taking over the world come at a very hefty price both to the environment and to our economy. Not only does it create innumerable environmental concerns, but we are also facing some of the greatest economic challenges due to new modern conveniences and the rate technology is taking over the world.
This single economic challenge is, in fact, economic inequality. According to a report released by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs called The World Social Report 2020, it primarily argues about the dangers of economic inequality and how it is mainly driven by flawed political systems that favour the wealthy. As a consequence, economic inequality becomes a self-reinforcing cycle and has the potential to grow to extremes where poverty is atrocious and where basic human rights such as health care are only accessible to wealthy upper-class households.
Consequently, it has become arduous or even nearly impossible, as some may say, for people to obtain a stable job in today’s society. While the global population and the need for jobs are constantly growing at an alarming rate, technology has already taken over 90% of the jobs humans used to do in the past.
Not only can economic inequality take poverty to the extremes and further divide society by pushing the majority of the middle-class population into the lower class, but unemployment will ultimately skyrocket. In such cases, there is an extremely high chance that the middle class will no longer exist and, in fact, the middle class is already shrinking every year at a constant rate due to our technological advancements putting an end to many professions.
Additionally, due to the fact that employers are always trying to look for the best applicants, and with so many bright-minded people laid off with near-perfect resumes, getting a job in today’s world is already difficult when considering the fact that there is an unimaginable amount of highly-trained individuals who are willing to take jobs that they normally would not take.
As a result, the twenty-first-century global competition and technology are destroying middle-class professions and higher skills are no longer free vouchers for good jobs and incomes. According to Market Watch, “Middle-skill workers are now more likely to be in the lower-income class and less likely to be middle income. Highly skilled workers are also less likely to make it to the higher-income class.”
If economic inequality is not solved, it may leave millions of families financially vulnerable and put some households in financial jeopardy when a crisis arises. This can be proven through the current Coronavirus situation; while the world’s wealthiest people such as Bill Gates predicted the Coronavirus, and was therefore successful in taking full advantage of the pandemic as well as profiting from it alongside many other multinational mega-corporations, a large number of the middle and lower class went bankrupt or became unemployed.
As a matter of fact, 45 of the 50 most affluent U.S. corporations are flourishing during the pandemic as they all turned a profit since March 2020. However, despite their success, the majority of these firms cut staff and used their profits to increase the wealth of their shareholders.
Impact on the Environment
As I have mentioned earlier, not only does technology affect the economy, it is also causing an unprecedented number of environmental concerns. Every single product we use in our everyday lives has its fair share of negative impact on the environment since many of the technologies we use in our daily lives utilize a lot more resources and energy, compared to their genuine needs. Manufacturing them is impacting the environment at an even larger scale to a point where it may be unrecoverable.
For instance, as we all know, plastic is a major concern and is used in nearly every product we purchase. Consequently, more than 8 million tons of plastic end up in our ocean. Not only does it affect the marine ecosystems, it also affects us, humans. In fact, according to an article by National Geographic, concerning the new research in the journal ”Environmental Science and Technology”, it found that humans are consuming anywhere from 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles each year. With added estimates of how much plastic is inhaled through the air, the number is more than 74,000.
Moreover, every modern technology we use has to be manufactured before being shipped to our houses, which then creates air pollution and toxic waste. When these products later have to be thrown out, these modern technologies further impact the environment through toxic techno trash, which comprises any broken or unwanted electronic devices and is the most rapidly-growing type of waste.
On the occasion that you throw away electronic trash with regular trash, it usually ends up at a landfill site, however, the problem remains that most electronics contain non-biodegradable, heavy, and toxic materials such as cadmium, lead and mercury.
As a consequence of these issues, throughout the past five decades, the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history and due to the rising temperature, it is also triggering the sea level to rise as well. As of January 2021, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the global mean sea level has risen 24 centimetres.
At this rate, scientists predict that the majority of the world’s largest cities such as New York, will inevitably be drawn into the ocean. However, the rising sea level and global warming is not as simple as this. If global warming continues at the current rate, humanity will have to prepare for some of the largest natural disasters ever recorded in history.
As a matter of fact, it is actually happening at this exact moment. Scientists agree that the earth’s rising temperatures are provoking longer and hotter heat waves, more frequent droughts, heavier rainfall, and more powerful hurricanes. For instance, as of last year, the Californian wildfires were a record-setting year in the history of natural disasters, to a point where four million acres of land were burned and where the skies of San Francisco turned completely orange for the entirety of a few days.
Furthermore, not only did it cause record-breaking wildfires, it also initiated some of the world’s largest hurricanes in Florida as well. - This suggests that not only will global warming bring record-setting natural disasters, but cities will have to face troublesome pests, heat waves, heavy downpours, increased rate of flooding and wildfires, meaning that global warming may also damage agriculture and fisheries.
While the world population is constantly growing from four billion in the 1980s to nearly eight billion as of 2021, if global warming continues to harm agriculture and fisheries, it means that humanity will be exposed to increased rates of hunger due to the fact that the modern conveniences are indirectly destroying crops and agriculture.
In conclusion, I will say that, overall, human rights and the standards of living have improved, mostly due to technology. However, the twenty-first-century modern conveniences are indeed provoking a rise in environmental concerns, overpopulation, humanitarian crises, economic inequality, and more.
On the other hand, I think it is important that we realize that anything we do on this planet will have its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Thus, I believe that it is important that we focus on the bright side of things while working together to hopefully solve what we can of the negative impact we have made on the world and to further move on towards a better future.