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Good or Bad: The Effect of Technology on Humanity
An argumentative essay presents arguments after research and investigation. The arguments must be logical and supported by concrete evidence in order to be strong and convincing. This sample argumentative essay weighs in on the debate on whether technology is good or bad for humanity.
Technology has been at the center of human life since the dawn of civilization. From the moment humans discovered fire, technology has played a central role in shaping humanity’s destiny. Indeed, this role only grew in the passage of time, and today virtually every aspect of human life depends on or is influenced by technology one way or another. But while humans have relied on technology for thousands of years, it is not without its drawbacks. History has plenty of instances when technology resulted in death and destruction. The dual nature of its effects has led to a heated debate on whether technology is good or bad. On one side of the debate (see how to prepare for debates ) are those who believe that technology is a positive force that can bring progress; on the other side are those who consider technology as a negative force that can only lead to suffering. In response to this debate, this argumentative paper argues that technology in itself is neither good nor bad for society; rather, it is how humanity uses technology that determines its nature. If history is to be considered in its entirety, technology has for the most part been beneficial. Technology has allowed humans to establish civilization, solve issues like hunger and diseases, improve the overall quality of life, as well as accomplish things no one could have predicted like exploring space far beyond the earth.
Technology is the application of science for practical purposes (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). This encompasses tools and machines that are usually used to solve various problems in the physical world (New World Encyclopedia, n.d.). In ancient times technology includes spoons and wheels; but in the modern world, this term has stretched to complex technologies, such as medical technologies, space technology, and artificial intelligence. Technology, indeed, started as the simple tools that helped early humans accomplish their tasks and, therefore, survive. It has been a crucial, positive force in humans’ progress from being nomads to establishing civilization. For thousands of years, humans lived as nomads, with hunter-gatherer groups that relied more on the resources readily available in their environment. Some humans would forage for food, while others would hunt wild animals. Paleontologists believed that such an existence was harsh and perilous. Not only were humans exposed to the elements, but they also had to fight wild animals and, at times, each other. To do this, they developed various stone tools, some of which helped them prepare the animals for food easier (New World Encyclopedia, n.d.). Food security was also not guaranteed, as they had to constantly look for food to survive. They were never quite sure if they would find enough to feed everyone. But technology changed this once humans invented agriculture and different ways to preserve food. They learned how to farm by studying the crop cycle and irrigation. They domesticated animals such as cattle, sheep, and horses. In doing these, humans were able to secure their sources of food. No longer did they have to wander the wilderness to survive. They could finally settle in one place where they could live in better conditions. So settlements started springing up, mostly in places where the land was rich and fresh water was available. Settlements became cities, cities became nations, and nations became empires. According to some estimates, humans had been leading a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle for 200,000 years before they invented agriculture approximately 12,000 years ago (Chatterjee, 2016). When examining society’s transition from living in the wilderness to establishing civilization, one will find that at the heart of this crucial event was technology. It was technology that ultimately enabled humans to leave behind conditions that had lasted for hundreds of thousands of years. Agriculture is now regarded by the modern world as a commonplace technology, yet it was the spark that humans needed to take root and thrive.
Another proof that technology is a positive force is its power to conquer society’s oldest enemies. Studies show that the average human life span is getting longer. Researchers believe that life expectancy during prehistoric times was only a few decades. Early humans died as young as 30 to 40 years old. This range remained the same for the greater part of human history. As late as the 19 th century, it was not unusual for a person to die in middle age, but all this changed because of technology. Furthermore, many children did not survive childhood due to health issues and illnesses like influenza. Tuberculosis and polio, likewise, were considered notorious killers, and plagues, such as the Bubonic Plague that raged in the 14 th century, were virtually uncontrollable, thereby resulting in the death of around a third to half of Europe’s population. A simple infection of the smallest wounds could end the life of even the healthiest individuals until technology conquered these. Thanks to technology, we have developed cures and treatments, and vaccines for almost, if not all, the diseases that were once considered deadly (New World Encyclopedia, n.d.). As a result, children breezed through childhood and the ife expectancy doubled. The vast majority of children born are expected to live full lives. Today, the average person is expected to live around 70 years or older, and scientists expect that this number will go higher as new technologies that can enhance health is developed. Technology has allowed society to live longer and more fruitful lives. Many of humanity’s oldest enemies such as diseases are no longer as deadly. None of these would have been possible if not for humanity’s pursuit and application of knowledge and constant expansion of research on technology.
As a result of the increased life expectancy through medical technological advancements, humans have been able to extend their knowledge and apply that to better technologies. Through these technological developments, doctors are able to perform life-saving operations on individuals with conditions that were unheard of years ago (Wolff, 2021). Apart from that, information can now be accessed easily through the world wide web so that crucial pieces of information are now also accessible to ordinary individuals. Of course, now space exploration has become possible. In the past century alone, humans have sent satellites to orbit the Earth, landed on the moon, and flown spacecraft far beyond our solar system. Humans have also developed telescopes that could view galaxies billions of light years away. Scientists predict that sometime in the future, humans will have advanced enough to send manned spaceships to distant reaches of the universe where humans can live in planets similar to Earth. All these efforts to explore the universe, however, are not merely due for the vanity or glorification of humans. Their more practical purpose is for humans to find a home. There will come a time when humans will have to leave the Earth, and thus the aim is for society to develop new technologies that will enable people to survive and flourish. This may seem like a lofty dream, but it must be remembered that many of the technologies that we take for granted today were also once only lofty dreams for those who came before.
Although technology has brought many positive advancements for humans, it can also be used for terrible things or can have adverse effects even when they were developed with good intentions. However, what is worth noting here is that the often-cited adverse effects of technology are not caused by technology but by the people who use it. A great example of this is social media, which has been used by people to connect with their friends and family anywhere they are. It could be used to deepen and strengthen relationships. However, social media has been cited as the major cause of technology addiction in adults . Furthermore, as was discovered a few years ago, sensitive data from social media sites could be and have been, used to manipulate voters and influence the political discourse (Ghosh and Scott, 2018). These data have been used to craft highly targeted ads and messaging to specific demographics, affecting people’s opinions on highly controversial debate topics and essentially creating a great divide between classes of citizens (Ghosh and Scott, 2018). These practices undermine the democracy that took decades to establish and is done for the benefit of a few people rather than the good of the majority. Another great example is hacking, which is the practice of breaching defenses in a computer network, usually done to steal sensitive information. To combat this, software engineers practice ethical hacking , which is the authorized practice of breaching defenses and finding weaknesses in a computer network in order to strengthen defenses against unethical hackers (Willetts, 2021). These are prime examples of why the debate on whether technology is good or bad is such a contentious one. However, as is evident in the examples, the technology itself is neutral but it can be used for good or bad depending on the ones using it.
In many ways, those who argue that technology is bad for humans are not wrong. There is some truth in their argument that technology has led to death, destruction, and suffering. As history shows, technology has been used by humans to harm fellow humans, wildlife, and the environment. Humans invented weapons to wage war against each other, the incessant use of fossil fuels has contributed to climate change, and many inventions only resulted in the degradation of the planet (Wolff, 2021). But these negative effects are not because of technology itself; rather, it is because humans use some technologies carelessly and without regard for the welfare of others or with outright sinister intentions. As the previous sections show, technology can bring so much progress if only humans choose to use it wisely. Despite everything, society still continues to advance through technology. Scientists still search for ways to solve old and new problems as well as challenges caused by other technologies. The fact that the world still moves forward in spite of some hurdles and setbacks is proof that technology is for the most part good rather than bad.
Though technology is a wonderful thing, it is true that it can also be quite terrible. History shows that technology has been responsible for both good and bad things. It is true that technology has its flaws, but for the greater part of history, people have used it to achieve noble goals. Technology was behind the rise of civilizations. It is also technology that allows people to conquer many of its old enemies such as disease. Now, humanity’s future depends on the development of new technologies. The fact that some people utilize technology to cause harm should not be considered a reason to condemn technology as a whole. If only humans will allow wisdom to guide them in their lives, then technology can make the world a brighter place.
Clark, J. (2019, May 2). What makes technology good or bad for us? Greater Good Magazine. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_makes_technology_good_or_bad_for_us
Ghosh, D., and Scott, B. (2018, March 19). Facebook's new controversy shows how easily online political ads can manipulate you. Time. https://time.com/5197255/facebook-cambridge-analytica-donald-trump-ads-data/
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Technology. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved August 6, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/technology
New World Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Technology. In New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 6, 2022, from https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Technology
Willetts, D. (2021). Technology and society: Building our socioethical future (2nd ed.) (D. G. Johnson and J. M. Wetmore, Ed.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Wolff, J. (2021). How is technology changing the world, and how should the world change technology?. Global Perspectives, 2(1), https://doi.org/10.1525/gp.2021.27353