Technology has become a necessity in our everyday lives. It is often abused to some degree by millions of people, whether it be social media, online shopping, texting, or simply roaming the internet. Although the use of technology is subjective, the primary purpose of technology is often overlooked, unappreciated and irrelevant for billions.
So what is the purpose of technology, the internet and innovation? The answer is simple: convenience. The innovation of technology has made our lives more convenient than at any other point in human history. Virtually any job, task, or need can be completed with technology or digital applications in a matter of minutes and even seconds. Understanding the purpose of technology helps also gauge the perspective of how we use technology.
This new era of technology is all about optimization and speed, which is also the purpose of innovation. The more powerful technology becomes, the fewer resources we will have to use to complete a task and improve the quality and speed of a systematic process. One example would be how we have transitioned from only accessing the internet from computers to a handheld cellphone that allows us to communicate, store, share, receive and upload information from our fingertips. We are slowly entering an era where technology is providing users with human-like text using educational and formal language, where previously such technology was non-existent. These emerging forms of artificial intelligence are making human tasks easier than ever before.
Secondly, technology provides solutions to complex problems that would not be accessible without technology or innovation. By helping overcome barriers within human capabilities, technology provides detailed, accurate and critical information. Furthermore, technology and the internet are still making innovative breakthroughs that are and will, change the world and the course of human history.
Brief overview of early technological evolution
Before the creation of smartphones, desktops, laptops, the world wide web and digital applications, people around the world conducted and lived their lives more simply. Traditional 20th-century methods of connecting and communicating with others before advanced technology started to go mainstream in the late 1990s included face-to-face communication, written letters, telephone, fax and the telegraph.
Although these forms of communication were effective, they were time-consuming and had many limitations. A significantly smaller target audience reach and the lack of ability to instantly update or share information instantly with others were a few of the drawbacks of pre-21st century communication methods.
Of all these technological creations, the telephone and the telegraph were the most effective in terms of mass communication. The telegraph was originally invented in the 1830s by Andre Marie Ampere and David Alter and was later revolutionized by Samuel Morse. The invention of the telegraph created a system that allowed long-distance communication simultaneously and instantly.
A message sent through Western Union Telegraph. Photo by Chris Boyer on Unsplash
The telegraph could send messages and information by sending electrical currents through wires over long distances. In addition, by creating and implementing Morse code, intricate messages could be sent instantly via electrical currents. Furthermore, this was the first time in human history that instant communication over a vast distance became possible. Although the telegraph was the origin of long-distance communication and the predecessor of the telephone and cell phone, Motorola developed the world’s first handheld cell phone in 1973.
The “Shoe” phone weighed two and a half pounds, was big as a shoe box and was extremely expensive. The first cellular phone call in history was made by engineer Martin Cooper, Motorola’s senior engineer. Cooper made his first call to Joel Engel who was working for rival AT&T to inform them that they made a functional handheld cellular device. However, though it was a technological breakthrough for computing technology, commercially the phone did not fit consumer demand.
The “Shoe” phone allowed a user a maximum of 35 minutes to talk and required 10 hours for recharging. Since the “Shoe” phone was not commercially accessible to consumers, it took almost 10 years to make a smaller and more optimized phone. In 1983, the 16-ounce version of the “Shoe” phone was created — priced between $3,500 and $4,000. However, the “Shoe” was still not suitable or affordable for the public.
Apple computer from 1984. Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
Soon after 1981, Adam Osborne created the first personal computer, the “Osborne 1” which consisted of a five-inch screen, a keyboard, a one modem port, two 5.25-inch floppy disc drives, and several software applications. It weighed 24.5 pounds, ran on a CP/M 2.2 operating system and was priced at $1,795. However, it was powered by a wall socket and had no onboard battery. In addition, the world wide web had not yet been created and personal computers were primitive in terms of societal usage.
Shortly thereafter companies like Apple, Osborne, Panasonic, Texas Instruments, Commodore and IBM began the technological race of creating innovative and efficient computers and computing devices.
The creation of the world wide web
The creation of world wide web was created by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 while he worked at CERN, originally developed to automate communication among scholars, scientists, universities and global institutions around the world. Shortly thereafter, in 1993, the world wide web became available to the public. Initially, the world wide web was not used by mass consumers until home computers became affordable and accessible in the mid to late 1990s.
In 1994, IBM created the world’s first smartphone that forever changed the way humans could instantly communicate with a click of a few buttons. Fast-forward to 2007, the Apple iPhone 2G was a touchscreen phone that had all sorts of digital applications, internet access and innovative ways to communicate text, voice and video. The Apple iPhone revolutionized innovation, optimization and style of design. Thereafter social media, emoticons, video calling and other forms of digital communication became more popular.
Conveniences of modern technology
In a world where most human tasks can be done by a computer, cellphone, or digital application in minutes or even seconds, the first example of how technology has provided humans with convenience is primarily communication and the creation and sharing of information across numerous platforms and mediums.
The news was only publicly accessible through print media, radio and television until the 1990s, but now individuals can access news media from smartphones, smartwatches, social media, the internet, and even simple information such as weather, temperature and traffic from newer model gadgets.
A smartphone screen with apps. Photo by William Hook on Unsplash
The accessibility of being able to open a digital app and see what is going on around the world saves individuals time, provides the ability to view news relevant to them, and more importantly, share information with others through text messages and social media. All of which can be done through a few taps and clicks of a button or screen allowing individuals to continue their daily tasks effectively and efficiently.
It should be noted that not only can information be shared by millions of people to view, but information can also be consumed in text-based, video, or audio format, depending on the preferences of the individual. This not only provides convenience but a personalized experience of how people would like to receive information.
E-commerce or online shopping also provides consumers the convenience of buying products or services via the internet. Instead of having to physically walk into supermarkets, stores, restaurants, or even pharmacies, people can now buy food, groceries, clothes, appliances, furniture and medical prescriptions online.
In addition, people who purchase products or services through the internet now have the convenience of driving to the supermarket, a restaurant, or a store of purchase and having their items delivered curbside or directly to their homes. Moreover, consumers now can price items online, have a faster buying experience, receive more detailed specifications on products, and exercise several options for how they would like to purchase products or services.
Person ordering takeout. Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash
Giving individuals the convenience of using their time for much more needed tasks or responsibilities such as spending time with family, raising children, running errands, or because it is much easier and less time-consuming, creates a sense of freedom and flexibility for humans to complete more tasks. Aside from individuals, companies and organizations now create content, advertisements and marketing strategies to reach millions of prospective customers, retain existing customers and directly respond to consumers and market trends.
Technology’s convenience makes information more accessible. Before the internet, information was dispersed through limited mediums, primarily print media. Books, journals, magazines and newspapers were the vessels through which individuals found, analyzed and studied information. If someone wanted to find specific information that could not be obtained at their local library or bookstore, individuals had to reach out to organizations, or educational institutions through a written letter of inquiry.
Along with having to physically look for books, newspapers and magazines and read thoroughly to find information, technology has changed how we conduct research. Now individuals can search for any form of information on the internet in a matter of seconds. Multiple search engines have created credible information catalogs such as Google Scholar, ResearchGate, Semantic Scholar and Scopus. Consequently, digital applications also have extensions that can be used for credible information multimedia.
Understanding the purpose of technology
Understanding that the purpose of technology is for our convenience should change our approach to the internet and digital applications. Technology is meant to make human lives easier, more productive and idea-driven. Also, many people would not abuse or overuse the internet if they only used it for reasons of convenience. Individuals who disregard the purpose of technology often become desensitized to augmented reality, which in most cases leads to Internet Addiction Disorder that consequently leads to neurological disorders, physical changes and an inability to function socially, especially in young adults.
Secondly, millions of people tend to become so embedded or distracted by virtual reality they often misconstrue the point of digital applications, social media and the negative effects that are associated with technology, not just for individuals, but users globally. However, technology will continue to change our lives immensely and the human race overall.
In terms of where we are now as a society, all innovative breakthroughs are about optimization and speed. Wireless headphones, earbuds, chargers, gaming controllers, Wi-Fi and ChapGpt were all invented for human convenience — a form of outsourcing for us to live more effectively and efficiently. This also contributes to how fast we are moving in time. In a critical sense, the less amount of work or time we as humans have to put in to complete a task, responsibility, or goal will naturally alter our sense of time. Moreover, since technology is attached to human psychologically, we move at the increasing pace of technology.
Lastly, and most importantly, technological innovation is changing humans mentally, culturally and biologically. The convenience of technology has brought forth significant consequences, but only time will tell how advanced technology will ultimately change human nature and the fabric of societies across the world.
Featured image: Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash
Edited by: James Sutton
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