Will Technology Save Us?

There are a number of problems facing our society, from climate change to civil unrest, from hyper-partisanship to a global pandemic. Many of these, and other, problems have been caused or been exacerbated through our use of technology. But can technology save us as well?

Our industrial growth has spewed greenhouse gasses into the air. Evolving news outlets and the rise of social media platforms have increased the division that already existed in our society.  International travel hastened the spread of a highly contagious and deadly disease.

If these problems have been hastened by technology, is there some hope that technology is also the potential solution?

Maybe we’ll rapidly discover and deploy a vaccine to combat the pandemic. Maybe carbon capture devices will halt or even reverse the level of greenhouse gasses. Or maybe cell phone and body cam footage will continue to make painfully clear the instances of racial bias that, in the past, might have gone unnoticed or disbelieved. ¬† The internet offers the possibility of exposing problems that must be addressed, or, in other cases connecting us, rather than dividing us.

But is it realistic to count on the very thing causing some of our problems to also be the cure? It might be that any efforts to develop a technological solution may just will only introduce new, and potentially even worse, problems. Or it could be that we need to use all the tools in our toolkit — including technology — to tackle the difficulties we currently face.

What do you think? Is tech to blame for the challenges we face? Will it offer us a way to address those them? Will technology save us?

Related questions: What new technology do you want? What skills have you lost due to technology? Is technology neutral? What role does technology play in your life? What is the greatest problem facing humanity?

What Unimportant Things Do You Focus On Too Much?

Do you find that you spend your time worrying about unimportant things, while ignoring big ones?

If so, you’re not alone. Focusing on trivial things is such a part of the human condition, there are even adages warning against it.

For example, take the phrase, “Penny wise, pound foolish.” Saving money on little things is meaningless if you waste money on big-ticket items.

Also, consider the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If we can only focus on the important things in life, it will save us time and even health in the end.

And yet, we often obsess over tiny details. Why would a person may behave this way?

For one, you may not know how to attack a big problem, but you can solve a small one. Thus, you turn your attention to what you know how to do. I can’t fix climate change, so I’m going to obsess on cleaning my house.

Alternately, you may not even realize there is a bigger issue. For example, you may be promoting one political opponent over another, without realizing that money in politics is a corrupting influence on both parties.

Sometimes, a smaller concern is simply more appealing. Ultimately, watching a TV show may not be important, but it’s more fun than doing your taxes.

Whatever the reason, every one of does this to some extent.

To combat this, we need to accurately determine the relative importance of things. In addition, we need to have the determination to tackle the big problems or issues as they come up.

Are there specific minor things that you find yourself obsessing over, at the expense of more significant issues? What unimportant things do you focus on too much?

Related questions: What is important? Is our attention fractured? What deserves your attention?