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Technology for Technology's Sake?

A creative mind never stops. There is potential for change, improvement or simplification in pretty much everything.

The mind of an engineer is constantly on the lookout for problems to solve, things to simplify, and generally opportunities to make things better. Ideas are passed through many filters. Is there a real problem to be solved? Is there a real market for this? Does this idea have an impact on the environment? Does it economically make sense?

Too often though, ideas are only passed through one filter: is this a novelty? If the answer is yes, then it will most likely generate sales, thanks to our desire of having the latest thing and the best thing.

Whereas there might not be any immediate dangers to technological advancements lacking a human advancement dimension, long term they have been shown to contribute to a sense of disconnection with what makes us human. Some inventions eliminate the effort of doing things that were not really an effort. Some replace one inconvenient aspect with a different one that is not so obvious. Others simply reinvent the way we do things, although the original way was possibly the simplest way of doing it.

And thanks to these technological advancements, we find ourselves brushing our teeth with Bluetooth toothbrushes for a more “personalized teeth cleaning experience” than brushing your teeth with a standard brush!

We plant our plants in smart pots that monitor the light and water levels and even top up the water if we forget about it. We then need to set an alarm to remind us to top up the pot, when we could have just set a reminder to water the plant!

We leave our pet in our “dog-mode” enabled vehicle, knowing all the while that technology can fail, and we feed them from bowls fitted with face recognition technology, to prevent furry food thieves.

Some may argue that technology has gone too far. And they have good reasons to support this opinion. But let’s not forget that most of these “pointless” inventions can be stepping stones to real problem-solving advancements. If a technology is there, we can look at it as another instrument in the engineer’s toolkit.

Lasers, complex numbers and gasoline are just a few examples of “pointless” discoveries that turned out to be instrumental to the development of other industries that have changed the face of the world.

So, let’s not be quick to judge. Make discerning choices, find the right balance between technology and life and keep an open mind. Today’s answer to a non-problem might be tomorrow’s revolution.

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