We live in an unprecedented age of technological development. The systems and tools around us are progressing at a rate that would have made people’s heads spin even only a few years ago. But, How Is Technology Helping You?
Technology is helping you through improving our lives, be it health, safety, or human connections, and often behind the scenes. Everything from enhancing AI forecasting the weather to unprecedented speeds and access with communications. Add mobile apps for wellness and education, and it’s clear that many advances are for the better.
Making sense of technology can be difficult, considering how quickly it develops. However, it is doubtful that this process will be slowing down any time soon so we can enjoy the benefits. Please keep reading to see an explanation of what makes technology helpful or harmful in our lives, as well as some examples of the most beneficial technologies in use today.
How Technology Is Helpful
The progression of technology has profoundly affected how we interact with each other and the world. There are so many firsts in technology and making our lives easier and better. Clothes washing machines, as opposed to pounding your laundry on a rock in a river was pretty helpful. How about automobiles, indoor plumbing, electricity, light bulbs, and refrigerators, just to name a few.
We have a lot to be grateful for, and there are many ways technology can be helpful in our lives. According to Forbes Technology Council, studies on the effects of technology have shown mixed results, but there are some definite positives. Some studies show that increased technological development has positively impacted society, while others have demonstrated distinct downsides.
We can say without a doubt that robotic vacuums and DVRs are some of the finest inventions of our time!! So what is helpful to society or the average person and new and exciting technologies?
Predicting the Weather with Artificial Intelligence
The Journal Nature released an article on a new type of Weather Forecasting by Google’s Deepmind Artificial Intelligence. Precipitation Nowcasting is the name and is a high-resolution forecasting model of rain up to two hours ahead of the weather event.
Most weather forecasters trust their intuition and observations ahead of technology, which has been necessary through history to get the weather forecasts correct. Deepmind assessed more than fifty meteorologists and showed that their AI model ranked first with effectiveness in eighty-nine percent of cases tested against two other forecasting methods.
If we can start forecasting weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes better and giving people more lead time, it will save a lot of pain and suffering. We are learning as a species as technology progresses, especially in AI, that the technology only gets better with time as it continues to learn and train.
Technology Improving Communication in Daily Life
The most significant improvement in current communication through technology is speed, as we see mobile technology in broadband communication services with smartphones, wifi, and 5G. The average person does not have a “landline” or “home phone” anymore and has a cellular or smartphone.
People in remote areas are connected with each other through phone, texting, and email. People worldwide are also virtually connected through the internet on tablets, laptops, and computers. This connectivity is made possible through global satellite wireless networks, cellular towers, fiber optics, undersea cables, and advanced technology.
We have incredible reliability, network stability, and resilience in our digital technology systems, machines, and security today, which only improves with time. We have end-to-end encryption security, and we are accelerating the transition from voice-grade copper wire to fiber to address congestion in xDSL networks that also carry high-speed data traffic.
What’s next, you ask? How about Laser Communication!!
In today’s world and with our planet’s growing population, it is of the utmost importance to look at the effect of trash in our oceans, waterways, and landfills. Sustainable materials like compostable plastics and manufacturing will only enhance the disposal of unused materials and waste.
Biodegradable and sustainable materials reduce the need for chemicals and harmful ingredients in the manufacturing process. Using materials like corn to make plastic bags is helping to bring manufacturing closer to carbon neutrality. A new technique out of UC Berkeley makes ‘biodegradable’ plastics truly compostable.
Whenever we use recyclable materials like bioplastics that self-decompose, we change the effect on the long-term consequences for our children and the environment. We can also use renewable materials like bamboo and reclaimed or recycled steel in manufacturing as recycling and supply chain optimization becomes more necessary every day.
Technology Has Improved the World of Financial Trading
Technology has caused a broad range of positive effects. Statistical analysis has become much more efficient and reliable with modern data technology. Likewise, access to water, food, and education is more prevalent across the planet today than ever before.
One of the most prominent advantages of modern technology is in the world of financial trading.
Market interactions have reached a kind of singularity of speed and efficiency, with many millions of trades taking place every fraction of a second. This benefit has allowed the global economy to provide numerous advantages that go far beyond the profits of a few well-connected individuals.
Technology Has Improved Many People’s Quality of Life
Technology is helpful when it improves the quality of life for people that use it. Typically, this benefit comes from increased health, efficiency, and connectivity.
However, understanding the way technology affects our lives can be pretty complex. Nobody can say that increased access to sanitation or water is bad for us. Likewise, nobody can deny the socially disruptive effects of modern technology.
In fact, some studies have shown that socializing online can decrease loneliness.
Technology and Your Health
There are tremendous advances in healthcare with lasers, robotics, and AI reading an X-ray or diagnostic panel, finding a Cancer tumor better than a human is all thanks to technology. We meet our doctors remotely online with Telemedicine because it is more convenient.
AI in Healthcare
AI algorithms can automate medical imaging analysis, often undetectable by humans, identifying and labeling data patterns and allowing technicians to plan and execute routine exams. AI algorithms can also analyze this information quicker and compare it to other pertinent studies.
AI machine learning called Federated Learning connects healthcare entities and their information without moving the medical information and data from where it is stored.
NLP or Natural Language Processing is also being used to analyze large amounts of patient data and allows these algorithms to isolate compatible data in much faster time frames.
Mobile Wellness Apps
Many aspects of mobile apps and electronic interactions can benefit the human psyche. One such aspect is the emergence of mobile wellness apps.
There are now apps and fitness gadgets to keep you on track with wearable fitness trackers like Fitbits and Apple Watches, and other technology. We track our diets on applications and see how many steps we took today.
Apps like MyFitnessPal and Fooducate have made it easier for people to maintain good habits and improve their quality of life. A wide range of these apps are available for almost anything you could imagine.
In different apps, you can:
- Keep track of your fitness goals
- Practice your math skills
- Train your memory
- Analyze your sleep patterns
Language Learning Resources
Much like the emergence of wellness apps, the expansion of language learning resources has also accelerated. Apps like Duolingo and Memrise make it easier than ever to learn any language you want, from Yiddish to Classical Latin and everything in between.
This ability is particularly good for our rapidly globalized society. More people than ever before are moving to Europe and North America from places like Africa and the Middle East.
Google Translate and other free language apps give people, whether traveling, moving, or just learning a new language, tools to communicate much more accessible.
Safety and Security
Technology in Safety and Security has been growing for many years, from Building Automation Systems (BAS) in commercial buildings, Cyber Security to a Ring Video Doorbell at your front door.
From the Internet of Things (IoT) to AI, Machine Learning advancements are used for personal and employee safety. These systems use sensors, cameras, IoT, networks, and mobile apps, just to name a few current trends and attributes.
With the advent of technology, our world has become a safer place just by monitoring many of the systems in our buildings alone. There are now sensors in automobiles and airplanes that save lives every day.
Technology and Human Connections
We need the companionship of others for life to feel fulfilling, and being connected to others can ease stress and anxiety. A hug is sometimes the very best medicine you can get, and human interaction, friendships, and love can add years to your life.
Many of our business meetings and doctor’s appointments today, especially during and after the pandemic, are on apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Telemedicine. Many platforms can be used, but the reality is there has been a significant change in the way we do things.
There is a comfort of sorts seeing a group of faces on an online meeting or even an Apple iPhone Facetime call if your relatives or friends live in another city or state. If you live in a remote area or small town, travel has become increasingly difficult to see anyone, and technology has filled the void.
With the growth of population, congestion, and traffic in cities, technology is making up for lost human interaction with society’s detachment in many ways. We share with those we care about through texts, pictures, and emails on our smartphones, and sometimes that is the best we can do.
It is unlikely that we will go back to how it was.
Some Studies Show That Social Media Has Brought Us Closer
Even though social media arguably has had a negative effect on the world in general.
This news may come as a surprise to some more Luddite individuals or those who dislike new technology and who may argue that social media has made us more disconnected in our day-to-day lives. But like many things, the truth is in the details.
In terms of social interaction, actively socializing on social media seems to affect the human psyche positively. This ability means making real-life plans with friends, having meaningful conversations, or interacting with people in a natural and well-adjusted context.
Conversely, passive social interaction through social media seems to have a negative effect. This effect means posting pictures of yourself for attention, passively scrolling through your social media feed, or creeping your peers to compare their lives to yours is not good for you.
What Makes Technology Good or Bad for Us?
Just like anything else, technological development has its pros and cons. Typically, many negative observations about technology focus on social media and smartphone’s effect on human interaction.
Technology is harmful to our lives when it causes undue strife, dependency, or injustice. Persecution, and misinformation, can be easily enhanced by accelerated technological development.
According to Medical News Today, becoming dependent on simulated social interaction over the internet has replaced traditional socialization for many people. When used as a coping mechanism for loneliness, studies have shown that this has an overall negative effect on people’s social habits and expectations.
Another apparent negative effect of technology is in warfare. Today, the human race is more capable of killing itself than ever before in history. Although force is the ultimate authority from which all other power is derived, nobody can deny that this force has accelerated much faster than anybody could understand.
Some Examples of Helpful Technologies
The positive effects of technology are arguably worth the downsides. To examine this idea further, let’s look at a few specific technologies that have made human life more efficient and bearable in recent years.
Alternative Renewable Energy
Renewable energy technologies like geothermal, wind, solar power, fusion, fuel cells, algae-based biofuels, and oceanic energy are possibilities for powering the planet in the future as cleanly as possible.
Although there are as many problems with Alternative Renewable Energy as there are solutions, we are working on alternatives to move forward in these areas.
It may come as a surprise to some readers, but recent developments in nuclear power have made it viable as an energy source. Systems such as molten salt reactors have designs that do not require solid fuel. This benefit eliminates the need for solid nuclear fuel manufacturing and disposal.
Electronic Funds Transfer
In the rapidly growing global economy, digital money transfers have become a godsend.
Western Union performed the first electronic fund transfer in 1871 through a telegraph machine (a new technology). Since then, electronic money transfers have grown to the point where many people don’t even carry cash on them.
Without this tech, our monetary system would undoubtedly be unable to shoulder the sheer weight of the global economy the way it runs today.
Our basic plumbing is getting more intelligent, from leak detection, tankless water heaters, smart faucets to smart toilets.
- Smart Water-Leak Sensors can detect leaks in plumbing systems. These sensors can shut off valves to prevent damage or water loss and alert you of freezing temperatures and humidity issues. These sensors can trigger an alert and either notify you by an alarm or send it to an app on your smartphone.
- A tankless water heater is a water heater that does not use a tank, so the tank does not rot out and flood your house or building. Tankless water heaters also can give you fast, hot water and are significantly more energy-efficient than regular hot water tanks.
- Smart faucets can have on and off voice controls settings, water usage monitors, leak detection, and both manual and touchless faucet controls.
- Smart toilets come with various amenities like heated seats, and two of the main advantages that smart toilets bring are water control and health benefits. Smart toilets can change their flow rates based on water availability and even keep track of certain aspects of your health.
DNA Data Storage
DNA Data Storage is one of the most interesting subjects there are. It looks like computer code if you think about how the human genome is stored in our bodies. What’s even more interesting is that we did not know the breakdown of the human genome as its sequencing started in 1984 and was completed on April 14, 2003.
Today’s computer code really first began in the early 1950s, and the concept goes back to 1822. Organic life is based on a code written in four letters, C (for cytosine), G (guanine), A (adenine), and T (thymine).
DNA data storage creates synthetic DNA and writes the information directly on the DNA itself to store binary data. In the future, compared to existing traditional computer drive-based storage methods, DNA data storage will allow significantly more digital data to be stored.
Many first saw the concept of 3d Printing on episodes of Star Trek in the food replicators. The crew pushed a button, and food and drinks would be “printed” and appear in a small alcove. Fast forward to today, and a 3D Printer is a machine that prints physical objects from a three-dimensional digital computer model.
3D printers work by laying down many layers of material on top of each other. The material can be human body cells or other materials to print an organ or bone for a replacement to a mixture of concrete and resin to build a house. Whatever is being printed, it still works like magic and is just the beginning.
Today we have 3D printers you can buy on Amazon and print toys and jewelry to extremely sophisticated 3d printers that print automotive and aerospace lightweight parts. According to Statista, the 3D printing market grew worldwide from 4.4 billion in 2013 to 21 billion in 2021 and will continue to grow with new material and process breakthroughs.
The Energy to Run Future Technologies
From decarbonizing healthcare through renewable energy and efficiency to making our energy grids more sustainable and efficient through technology. We will have to find ways to reduce energy consumption.
The Clouds Energy Consumption
“The cloud” is essentially computer servers located in data centers worldwide. These are huge buildings filled with computer servers that use massive amounts of energy. Our smartphones or computers access the Clouds servers through the internet and the software and databases on those servers.
Data centers use electricity to run their equipment and keep the computers cool. Cloud servers are energy-intensive globally, and although t is hard to nail down, data centers use anywhere from 1% to 3% of all electricity in the world. That is a sobering statistic and continues to climb.
It has been suggested that due to Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, data centers may need as much as 8 percent of the world’s energy by 2030.
Artificial Intelligence Need For Energy
Artificial Intelligence has a great need for energy and information. Every decision made about Artificial Intelligence has implications for energy use, especially in the future.
AI takes a lot of electrical energy, carbon emissions, and data to train, for instance, a Natural Language Processing (NLP) model by current methods like searching through sources such as the internet. This requirement is because whatever the AI is trying to learn about requires it to read through lots of data until it understands.
As AI becomes better and wiser and figures out how to reduce its energy consumption, and is accepted as a source for energy controls. Advanced control and machine learning algorithms like Federated Learning can leave data at its source and, theoretically, use less energy.
Cryptocurrency Energy Requirements
A cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Ethereum are forms of digital money. It’s a virtual medium of exchange, using a decentralized system to record transactions and issue new units through technology like blockchain.
Cryptocurrencies are “mined” and use a lot of energy. Take, for instance, Bitcoin; every Bitcoin mined requires 1,173 kilowatt-hours. That is 110 Terawatt hours per year and 0.55% of the total global electricity used.
Obviously, with all digital data, some form of electrical energy is required and a concern. Having your money as cryptocurrency digital data only compared to a regular currency like the dollar or gold might be more than some people can bear and make you think twice.
Technology moves forward at a breakneck pace which won’t change anytime soon. We can revel in the positive effects that society enjoys because of technology. It may be the only way we can slow down and stop the destruction of our planet in some ways.
- SmarterWare: 10 Useful Technology Innovations for Your Health
- PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS): Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks
- Medical News Today: Negative effects of technology: What to know
- Brainspire: Positive Effects Of Technology – Making Everyday Life Better
- NCBI: JMIR Mental Health: Social Networking Sites, Depression, and Anxiety: A Systematic Review