Late last year, Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak made some interesting statements about our growing dependence on technology. Here are a few quotes from Wozniak, who was speaking during an event at the Computer History Museum.
“We’re dependant on it [technology]. And eventually, we are going to have it doing every task we can in the world, so we can sit back and relax.”
“All of a sudden, we’ve lost a lot of control. We can’t turn off our Internet; we can’t turn off our smart phones; we can’t turn off our computers.”
“You used to ask a smart person a question. Now, who do you ask? It starts with g-o, and it’s not God.”
Of course, it’s interesting to hear these comments from someone who believed in and helped bring about the vision of a computer in every home (which most people thought was crazy 25 years ago). So, I wanted to take a minute (and a blog post) to consider the role that technology has taken in our daily lives.
Actually, I would be willing to bet that people have been saying something similar about technology taking over our lives for a long time. Every major advance in technology (from the steam engine to the telephone, to the automobile to the computer, etc.) disrupts society’s status quo. Since we are all creatures of habit to some extent and are wary of change, it makes sense that technology which forces us to change our behavior (even if it is to our benefit) takes some getting used to and may even face a lot of opposition. Industries rise and fall, jobs are created and lost, and people’s lives are permanently altered, all because of new technological developments.
So, have we actually reached some point where technology has become too much a part of our lives or is this just a repeat of the same kind of reaction that people had to having a telephone in every home (No one will ever write letters again! The children will not want to learn to read and write!) or to the invention of recording devices (This is the end for musicians! No one will go to a concert when you have a recording of the music at home.)?
I do think that new technology seems to develop at a faster and faster rate. But, I’m not ready to jump on the ‘technology has taken over my life’ bandwagon just yet. Just responding to Steve Wozniak’s comments, I would say that ‘yes’ we are dependent on technology. But, we have been for many generations. Technology puts a roof over our heads, provides jobs and an economy, transports us from one place to another, lets us communicate over long distances, and impacts a million other basic things that we take for granted every day. But, I don’t see that we have lost control over our lives because of technological advances. If anything, technology continues to give us more control, providing individuals with more choices of how to live their lives than ever before. It isn’t that we “can’t” turn off our smart phones and computers any more than we can’t turn off our electric lights, furnaces, or indoor plumbing. They are all technological advances that have improved our lives. At this point, we find more benefits in using these items than not using them. Looking back at history, when a type of technology loses its usefulness, we put it aside for something better. I just don’t see this as an example of people losing control of their lives.
I’ll step down from my soapbox now and let you tell me what you think. Has technology taken too big a role in your life?
Quick Note: I’m sure you’ve been asking yourself – Steve Wozniak… Tom Wozniak… is there a connection? Despite rumors to the contrary, Steve Wozniak is not my dad. In fact, to the best of my knowledge we’re not directly related. Wozniak is a much more common name that you might expect (anyone from Chicago can attest to this fact). There is even a Facebook group (not started by me) called “Don’t you wish you were Tom Wozniak”. We hold regular meetings and save a few bucks on nametags – because we don’t need them.