It’s very common to hear about all the terrible things that humanity in general and technology specifically is doing to the planet. Constantly we are told that we are using up all of the planet’s natural resources and that we’re destroying the environment. Regularly we’re reminded that we now spend all our time sitting down either at work or on the sofa when it’s actually getting outside and being active that is healthy for us. And technology is also often made to be a villain in other ways – for making us too reliant on outside help for instance to the point where we’re losing our physical capability.
Is this true? Would we have been better off had we never invented the first gadget or gizmo?
Certainly it seems that the Earth would be in better shape and of course we wouldn’t have the same problems with the ozone layers or fossil fuels that we do today. Likewise, we’d probably be much more active and much more healthy and being outside regularly chasing prey would mean we’d all be physical specimens.
But before you damn technology, read on and see why we shouldn’t pull the plug just yet…
Computer Games and Fitness
When computer games first came on the scene many people were worried that we’d end up spending all our time ‘gaming’ and as such never get any exercise or fresh air. To an extent it seems these concerns were warranted and today you do have a lot of overweight gamers who seem not to be particularly interested in things like ‘physical fitness’ or ‘the great outdoors’.
But then came along the Nintendo Wii. Here was a gaming console that you interacted with by exercising. Swinging the controller is how you played a tennis game and punching with it is how you played a fighting game. The result? Lots of calories burned and muscles toned.
We took a small step backwards with regards to motion gaming this generation granted, but things are likely to improve again once we combine motion control and virtual reality. The ‘Virtuix Omni’ is essentially a treadmill that’s designed to be used in conjunction with the Oculus Rift and it’s pretty much the definition of a computer game that helps you get exercise.
The point is that technology has taken us full circle. We’ve gone from the point where it prevented us getting exercise to the point where it’s likely to help us get much more exercise in the near future in a much more fun way. Then you have fitness trackers and things like lamps designed to emulate sunlight… technology is no longer a hindrance to fitness but a huge boon.
Energy and the Planet
The same goes for energy and the planet. Right now cars spew out fumes and consume fossil fuels and are pretty much destroying the planet. Meanwhile our constant use of other devices is costing us and forcing us to seek out the best cheap electric companies.
But give it a few years and electric cars and/or other high tech fuel sources are likely to be the norm. There’s even a car in the works that runs solely on salt water!
This is pretty incredible and it’s only one example of technology that is undoing the damage of its forbearers. How solar panels? Geothermal furnaces? Wind turbines? How about a future where solar panels orbit the sun and ‘transmit’ energy back down to Earth?
Or how about nanotechnology and genetic engineering that results in plants that are luscious and green all year round in every weather? How about climate control so high tech that it lets us control the weather?
How about artificial intelligence so advanced that none of us have to work and we have endless resources?
The point is that just like tidying your bedroom, it always gets worse before it gets better. Technology will take its toll on the planet in the short term but in the long term it might just result in a utopia. Our current troubles aren’t a sign we should stop – they just mean we need to try harder!