One of Carl Sagan’s most famous quotes talks about how our world will soon be governed by science and technology that few people living in it will understand. If we look around now at this world, then it seems he was very right.
Technology and the science behind it play an integral part in our life, and that’s truer each day than it was the day before. As we go to work or to school, as we travel the world, as we enjoy our hobbies, more and more of these aspects of our life are being taken over by technology. Even relationships are happening through technology. How many people have you heard of that met their partner or spouse though a dating app or some kind of social media platform? How much time do we spend on our phones and glued in front of screens? Technology is pervasive and some would say worryingly so.
Yet, how much of it do we understand? We may understand that there is a difference between one model of the iPhone and another. We may know that the internet allows us to do so much more today than we were able to years ago, but how much of it do we really understand? For most people, acceptance is as deep as they go in their relationship with technology- well, acceptance and reliance.
Most people could not be divorced from their technology, and yet so many of them know very little about how the devices operate that they use every day. There was a time when people would want to find out how things ticked and what made them operate. They would take them apart and want to learn more about how their telephone, remote control car or telescope operated. Now, it seems they simply accept that they need and use these things and never question the inner workings at all.
This was Carl Sagan’s fear from when he lived. He saw a world that was filled to the brim with technology, but very few people interested in what made that world operate. It’s understandable that not everyone would be interested in how every device they use works, but it is worrying there are so many people using these devices and making use of technology with no real understanding of any of it. They exist without valuing, and they use without understanding, and that means they are less likely to contribute to furthering technology.
It also means that they will not approach technology with any sort of wonder. Advances will be made that are never ooh-ed and aah-ed over. People simply want to move to the next technological advancement without stopping to think how they got there. That can be dangerous for a culture and a society that is so dependent on technology. The potential to stagnate or to lose the ability to make what we already have is high, and that rightfully worries forward thinkers, as it did the late Carl Sagan.