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Technology: Can It Heal the World?

August 12, 2013

Man first used the power to hold back the calamities of nature, and then to bring under control, all the cosmic phenomena unpropitious to the mundane world.

by Subhankar Ray

Use of technology for developmentJ. Bronowski in his Technology for Mankind says, “Man has won his dominant position on this planet by his command of technology”. “Man alone changes the shape of his world.” Has man used this dominance to advantage or not?

Man first used the power to hold back the calamities of nature, and then to bring under control, all the cosmic phenomena unpropitious to the mundane world. Application of technology led to higher standards of living. The constant metamorphosis of the world around us, due to technological innovation, has now taken us to a “Hi-tech” world where every mundane activity is made possible by technological tools.

Technology, “the sum total of all the different techniques by which man changes his environment”, has a vital role to play in modern times. But this is not without risks. For technology, if not wisely used, if its evil powers are released, man may well be wiped out of the earth. This is no figment of imagination. The two Word Wars tell us how dangerously close man is to annihilation. Nobody can forget the events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There are several areas where science and technology can intervene and bring benefits to man. Think of the kaccha roads in the villages or of the busy roads in the metropolitan cities. Both are difficult to use. The “country roads” must be improved to make life easier for the villagers, specifically during the rainy season. The busy city roads, corroded and congested, must be broadened enough with provision of footpath on both sides of the roads, with modern facilities of toilets, drinking water etc. Technology that lies behind in sub-ways and over bridges too must be fully harnessed to ease the traffic congestion.

What about the vehicles on the roads? The harmful automobile exhausts can be reduced by using lead free petrol and by installing pollution control devices such as after-burners. Besides, industrial emissions, contaminating natural air, must be removed by passing them through a water spray device called a scrubber. The solid particles in smoke can be removed effectively by using a device called an electrostatic precipitator.

Close to the roads is my home. My ‘sweet home’. But, is it possible to call it a sweet home when it looks more like a pigeon’s cage? Multi-storyed buildings must be designed scientifically with provision for enough natural light and air inside the living rooms. Housewives should help conserve water by diverting wastewater into soak pits and rubbish to sanitary landfills.

Technology can bring a complete revolution in the desultory world of education, especially in India where half of the population a still illiterate. With the replacement of traditional oral education by audio visual education, people can be made aware of the world around them more quickly, as the impact of such education has long lasting effects upon one’s mind.

To conclude in the word of Bronowski “technology is the application of scientific knowledge to human problems. The knowledge can be applied for good or evil. We must remain constantly aware of the dangers that lie in the possible misuse of our enormous skills. If properly used, however, these very skills could enable whole populations to lead the kind of good life – both material and spiritual – that now is the privilege of a lucky few.”

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