The Urge to Solve Problems with Technology and How it is Often Wrong

Technology and the Urge to Solve All Problems

The urge to create a perfect world has been there throughout the ages. However, whereas earlier attempts at doing so were guided by people with hands on effort and intimate contact with the on the ground realities, the present move towards using technology is often misplaced as it focuses on using tools like social media without actually getting down to the nuts and bolts of on the ground action. In other words, the problems being faced by the world need concerted action that is bottom up and which involves action from those working directly with the victims instead of top down approaches using social media that are out of tune with the ground realities. Of course, this does not mean to say that technology cannot solve any problem, as there are many examples of using technology as a means of spreading awareness and knowledge. The point here is that technology requires human action in concert with each other and not necessarily one without the other.

Limitations of the Internet

The other aspect of trying to solve all problems using technology is that the internet can do only that much and not more. This means that while the internet is good for bringing together people and as can be seen in the positive impact that it had on building better lives for many, it is indeed an agent of change. However, the urge to fix everything using the internet alone must be resisted solely because it has its limitations in that geographical considerations and the need to have on the ground presence are factors that the internet cannot solve. Further, there is the added aspect of the digital divide, which means that the majority of the citizens in the world do not have access to the internet, and hence, the limits to what technology can accomplish are made plainly evident here.

The Urge to Perfectionism

The third aspect is that the proponents of the lets fix everything using technology aspire for a utopian situation that resembles absolute perfectionism. What these well meaning advocates forget is that complexity and ambiguity as well as opacity and imperfection are built into the world and hence, aspiring to social good must take into account all these factors. In other words, the human condition can be improved only through sustained and concerted effort that takes time and not the kind of instant solution based model that is proposed. Apart from this, the fact that technology is value neutral means that it can be used for good as well as for bad. Hence, the temptation to advance technological solutions for all problems might backfire because of the same technology falling into the wrong hands to create havoc.

Final Thoughts

Finally, we must make it clear that this article is not a pessimistic one which dismisses technology altogether. Just that we would like to make it clear that striving to use technology to solve all problems must be based on realistic assumptions and as the subsequent articles detail, the internet can indeed be used to deliver infinite progress provided some of the conditions discussed here are met.


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