Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Is Technology the Answer?

As somebody who relies on technology to live I’m probably a bit biased, so I believe the answer is yes. For those who don’t know - my brother and I have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, this is a muscle wasting disease with larger muscles being affected more than small. We stopped walking at 10 and rely on electric wheelchairs to get around. We have continued to get weaker, but progress of the disease has greatly slowed as we get older. At around the age of 20 we started using mechanical ventilation as our breathing had become more difficult. Initially we used them overnight and in the last two years we have used them 24/7.

Technology allows me to get around and has greatly extended my life and that of my friend who have MD. Only a few years before I received my ventilator they were not prescribed as readily with deadly consequences. I still continue to lose friends, but ventilation gives me the hope that the majority of us will live to see better treatments.

Some people blame technology for the ills of the world, but it is really us humans that are to blame. We had the audacity to wish that all our children would live to reach adulthood. That we could stay healthy longer and actually live to retirement. Freedom from horrible diseases like smallpox and polio. That we could travel to see relatives on the other side of the world. That we could communicate with anybody wherever we were in the world.

Technology has been the answer; the world is a far better place than it was 100 years ago. The problem is the unintended consequences of answering our sometimes desperate needs. Technology was the answer in the past and continues to be so.

Our need for energy is what is destroying this world, but we will continue to be unwilling to give up the amazing things that technology has given us. There are many alternative forms of energy such as solar power that are becoming increasingly cheaper. One day soon it will be normal to have solar panels on your roof. Wind power is also rolling out across the country.

The latest technology has also allowed houses to be many times more efficient. It is possible for a house to be quite liveable only being heated by the body heat of the people living in that house. Yes it is more expensive to build a house like that, but the immense energy savings would pay for it in no time. With energy prices going up more people will be choosing to make their houses more efficient.

Our society could be made more efficient. For example all our food waste could be fed into bioreactors generating methane which can then be burnt in a power station next door. Technology will also solve future problems such as the looming demographic crisis with there being too many retired elderly people for our economies to support. The answer to this is of course an army of robotic carers. This is not a pie in the sky idea, but something that is necessary for human life to continue as we know it. This crisis is already hitting in Japan. China cannot save us this time with their own demographic crisis on the horizon. If we do not wish to introduce compulsory euthanasia and we do not find a cure for old age - robots will be the answer.

So to sum it all up - technology is the answer.

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