Technology is a vast term and encompasses many different kinds of tools and machines that help us solve problems. It may be physical, such as a crowbar or a space rocket, or virtual, like computer software or business methods.
Technological advances are continually transforming our world and making things faster, simpler, and more efficient. The internet, for example, has made it possible to communicate with people all over the globe without ever having to leave our homes. Other technologies are revolutionizing our work, from robots that assist in manufacturing to platforms that allow employees to track their productivity.
However, a technological advance often comes with unintended consequences. For example, when TVs first became popular in America, they exponentially scaled the behavior of zoning out in front of the screen, hypnotized by constant visual stimulation. The same can be said for the recent explosion of social media sites, which have dramatically increased the ratio of one-way communication to real-life interaction.
The challenge is to keep up with the rapid evolution of technology and use it wisely, both at home and in the workplace. We need to liberate technology from scholars who reduce it to instrumental reason—the process of finding the best means to a given end—and rescue it from determinists who think that it is self-directed and largely independent of our values. Then we can avoid the dystopias envisioned in novels such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and plays such as Goethe’s Faust, where the protagonist sells his soul for technological advancement.