The future of technology is indeed worrying as its misuse has led to a deviation from the roles it was intended to have within the society, to the adoption of more controlling role that domineers over every aspect of human existence, frequently shakes the cultural foundation upon which individuals thrive, redefines social structures on a daily basis, informs change in perspectives, gives the media an incredible amount of status within the society and even has the capacity to affect individuals’ moods and emotions (Sasvari, 2012). It is incredibly unusual that technology, especially the internet, has had such modifying effects on every aspect of human existence; from manufacturing to commerce to education, medicine, research and even social interactions. These achievements would have been impossible for prior technologies that focused on improving production, and manufacturing processes and increasing the life expectancy of human beings.
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It is incredibly worrying that the world went from industrial oriented, practically harmless technology that was limited to the manufacturing processes and increasing the level of productivity due to an increased demand for processed goods that had been brought about by the dramatic increase in the world’s population as a result of an increase in the life expectancy of human beings, due to new innovations in science, to the full-blown world wide web in just a couple of decades (Illing, 2018). We should be worried that we were not given enough warning or time to adjust to the kind of change that would be brought about by the new technology. Families have not had enough time to educate their children on the negative impacts of technology as they are still ignorant of these effects or are still trying to adjust to its presence in their everyday lives in the first place.
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We are creating a world where people believe that ‘friends’ on the internet can substitute real social interaction and social support, where individuals spend more time on their smartphones talking to strangers than they spend creating new relationships or building on existing relationships with family and friends (Bryant, 2006). It is ironic that social media platforms were to reduce distances, foster communication and enrich the social lives of individuals yet people who are addicted to social media often suffer from incredible isolation, have dysfunctional or non-existent relationships with their family and friends and often experience incredible anxiety when they are not connected (Al Yousef, 2006). We are creating a world where people do not want to experience reality, where individuals express an incessant preference for a virtual reality where everything is controlled to their own liking as opposed to the real world where things happen at random (Illing, 2018).
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Despite the seemingly attractive nature of this virtual reality, it will lead to a situation where we lose touch with our reality, with the peculiarities that make us human and become mindless and uninteresting. Meanwhile, advances in technology will be looking at engineering the human species by changing genetic codes and their expression to create a human being that is more suited to a particular purpose, and at the same time transform artificial intelligence forms to a form that is more adaptable, thinks, acts and learns much like a human being does (Illing, 2018). We will create a world where we become predictable and AIs become less so, the potential implications of this kind of society are disastrous to the human race.
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Even as we enjoy the benefits of technology such as; paperless environment, education, e-commerce, employment opportunities, effective time management and diversity in the ways to use our free time through the convenient access to reading materials, music, videos and games, we must also consider that once technology is misused, it cancels out its benefits in the same way that it provided them (Adebiyi, 2012). A paperless environment is good for the environment but a power hungry computer is detrimental to energy conservation initiatives. E-commerce has provided for a convenient trading environment, but it has also increased the level of Cybercrime and risks associated with making online transactions. Employment opportunities have been created in the form of; social media influencers, graphic design and virtual assistants, just to name but a few. However, jobs have also been taken away as a result of automation, and the use of artificial intelligence (Adebiyi, 2012). Moreover, the provision of effective ways to manage our time through the variety of applications, that offer this service as well as the provision of a variety of ways to utilize our free time has led to inactivity, increased violence due to the violent content of the entertainment material present on the internet and have contributed immensely to obesity becoming a public health threat in developed countries.
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Despite cancelling out the benefits that it aims to provide, the acquisition of new technology is an expensive affair Smartphones companies upgrade device features and value almost on a daily basis. This creates overwhelming social pressure on individuals as the acquisition of expensive technology has become a mediator of social status. People who cannot afford expensive technology often experience a sense of isolation due to the reduced face to face interactions and their inability to connect with other members of the society through this new technology (Adebiyi, 2012).
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The influence of technology in the future is terrifying and the future is bleak for individuals who will continue to immerse themselves into the benefits of technology without giving any consideration to its negative effects. We must learn to exercise restraint and advise future generations, through constructive dialogue, about these negative effects and protect them from them up to a certain age when they are responsible enough to handle themselves around technology without becoming completely addicted (Younes & Al-Zoubi, 2015).