Is Technology Our Friend

Sometimes technology is pretty amazing. Here is a case where scientists dreamed up a solution to a little girl’s mobility challenge. She was born with a birth defect that left her unable to lift her arms, even after extensive surgery.

In this case, the technology of a special prosthesis allows her to move her arms and interact with the world. Emma calls them her magic arms. Clearly this has created exciting possibilities for Emma and her family.

However, in this article by Mark Schaefer, technology doesn’t look so great. He has an imaginary conversation with Andy Warhol about social media. He talks about the limits of facebook as a venue and cell phones as our primary communication tool. Yes we get the ability to share ideas, photos, stories with our friends, and make new friends, but mostly we share the same old rehashed advice. We don’t own our creative work, and we must fit it into the small size of a cell phone screen.

The question remains as to whether technology is helping us to improve the quality of our lives. I’m not convinced. Modern living has us spending more time working alone in physical or mental realms,  interacting with our computers instead of interacting with people and nature. The computer is my constant companion, even when I’m on the go with my smartphone. I’d rather have a smart chip installed in my body so that I can get back to focusing on people. How can technology help to improve relationships with people and the planet?

This line of questioning probably seems odd coming from the innovation officer at Blue Zoo Creative. I understand that ultimately technology will keep moving in the path that we move it. Much like the debates over arms, technology is not inherently good or bad. The key is how we use it.

We need to dream up more creative, life enhancing uses of technology. How about technology that helps us live gently on the planet? Let’s use technology wisely for the good of all. Then I would be glad to call technology my friend. Here are some creative ideas from TED on energy efficiency that may help turn the tide.

What do you think? Is technology our friend? I’d love to hear your feedback.

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Brad, chief of questions.