Is technology helping society progress? Perhaps we need to start by asking a different question. What is progress?
PROGRESS // WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY
: movement forward or toward a place
: the process of improving or developing something over a period of time
When we think about enrolling our children in school, my wife and I look at it like this.
“Our desire for our children is that they learn to be loving, peaceful humans with the passion and ability to thrive in harmony with the planet and humanity. For us, this is the purpose of education.”
We are very deliberate about asking, “what is intended the purpose of our traditional education systems, and is it in line with our educational aspirations for our children?”
I recently wrote a blog about our family’s goals for educating our children, We Will Teach Them To Love.
TECHNOLOGY // WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY
: the use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to invent useful things or to solve problems
: a machine, piece of equipment, method, etc., that is created by technology
For simplicity, let’s just say technology involves manmade machines, equipment and platforms for communication (social networks, email, phones, computers, etc.).
Society tends to make the assumption that our technological advancements automatically imply “progress”. But progress reflects the status of movement towards a goal, and just like with our education, I think we need to be clearer about what that goal actually is.
What do we consider to be progress?
In the United States, “the pursuit of happiness” has been a popular notion since 1776. I believe “happiness” is an important goal, as long as we agree that true happiness cannot come at the expense of others.
Today, we use technology to build weapons that kill more people more rapidly, and with very little human interaction on the trigger. Our cell phone, email and social network habits have certainly connected us from a logistical standpoint, but are they really connecting us on a deeper, human level?
This reminds me of a brilliant video from one of my favorite spoken word artists, PRINCE AE.
We need to be clear about what “progress” really looks like for society.
I believe technology has the ability to deepen our human connection and further our understanding of the vast and awe inspiring universe we live in. But we must collectively determine that as the goal and move deliberately towards it.
This means we must resist any gravitational pull that would allow technology to further disconnect us from humans, nature and the divine. Technology only benefits society when we collectively resolve that the most advantageous use of technology is to further our pursuit of self actualization, interdependence, happiness, equality, peace and love.
Otherwise, we’d be better off to retreat back to the stone ages and reanalyze our goals as a society.
I think we’re hanging in the balance right now. But we have a role in all of this, individually and collectively. We can choose to embrace this responsibility on a personal level and amplify it through our lives… and probably our social networks.
Everything from love to the Internet carries the yin and yang of possibilities. As much as they improve our life, they have equal power to destroy it. It is up to us to determine how these elements are used, and what the purpose of their use will be.
I’m sure you can think of many ways that technology has made us a more fearful and divided society. And you can likely think of as many ways that it’s deepened and improved our human experience.
Let us be clear about what progress means to humanity. We are interconnected. Our actions affect the greater whole. And each of us has the ability to contribute to a collective purpose, set of standards and system of agreements.
The way you use technology personally and professionally contributes to the collective agreement that determines the purpose and goals of our technological progress. It’s our choice to use it to bring us closer together and into alignment with our planet.
Here’s a great example from JASON SILVA of technology being used to bring awe, beauty, discovery and understanding into our lives.
Here are a few questions to ponder. Please feel free to leave your comments!
- What does “technological progress” mean to you?
- Does the technology you use bring you closer to humanity and more in line with nature?
- How can you more deliberately contribute to the global perspective on the purpose for technology?
- How can you use technology to deepen the human experience?