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Jonathan McIntosh
Jonathan McIntosh

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Our Relationship with Technology

2003: The year I was born in Canada. The most popular phone sold that year was the Nokia 1100. Throughout my entire life, computers, Google Search, iPods, and the Internet have always existed. Although these technologies have evolved tremendously, they've always been a part of my world. Today, I ask: what should our relationship with technology be?

If we travel back in time to the 1980s, computers were strictly for work. You couldn't watch videos, talk to friends, or do much else. They were also expensive—according to Google AI, "The original Macintosh, released in 1984, cost $2,495, roughly equivalent to $7,300 in 2023". Steve Jobs was a visionary, and the graphical user interface (GUI) started something bigger than anyone could have imagined. Then, technology became more personal: laptops, flip phones, iPods, and finally iPhones, each iteration more portable and tailored to our preferences.

Technology has undeniably improved our lives. We carry cameras everywhere; communication is lightning fast, and we can access the entire wealth of human knowledge at our fingertips. Moving forward, technology will only become a larger part of our lives. We face a choice: fully embrace technology and the convenience it brings, or let it play a more minor role in our lives.

Consider this: as of April 2024(according to statista), there are 5.44 billion internet users worldwide, amounting to 67.1% of the global population. More people use the internet than those who do not. As coders we get to build a small part of those internet users experience.

If we take a step back for a second, we can look and figure out what role it plays in our lives. How much work, entertainment, communication happens on theses devices. Technology was created by humans for humans. For those creating technology—coders, designers, anyone in tech—when was the last time you were truly amazed by a piece of software or hardware? Why was that? We create to solve problems for others, whether we interact with them directly or not. Making people’s lives easier is one of humanity's greatest roles.

Continuing on the thought of taking a step back, I attended a talk this week in Boulder where a woman in the AI space highlighted a key aspect of our relationship with technology. She pointed out that despite the remarkable advancements in AI, some people in today's society find comfort in their lives only through interactions with chatbots due to loneliness. This is a real business venue. This reality underscores a significant responsibility for us as developers.

This brings me to the main point of this talk: life should not be all about technology. While technology has the power to enhance our lives in numerous ways, it's crucial to ensure it does not replace genuine human connections and experiences. We must strive to create a balance, allowing technology to serve as a tool that enriches our lives without becoming a substitute for the irreplaceable value of human interaction and natural experiences.

Death is certain; when it comes, we can’t take our work with us. None of the code, hardware, UI/UX designs, or security patches. I doubt anyone will wish they had worked more on their deathbed. Coding and technology should be part of our lives, but not the entirety. Go outside, appreciate nature. Pause from the fast-paced life of keyboards and bugs to take in the natural beauty of your environment—unless you live in Saskatchewan, then I don't know what to tell you.

Share your thoughts in the comments, and have a great day wherever you are.

Top comments (4)

miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot ⭐ • Edited

I grew up in a time when the only people you interacted with were those you went to school with or those you worked with. The world was huge and it came into our homes on transmit only, through TV or radio, a censored, sanitised, Holywood view of reality. Technology and the ability to communicate have revolutionised the world, changed our views, helped to reduce homophobia, transphobia, racism and sexism - while also providing dark niches for those attitudes to stew.

As a game programmer in the 1980s I know how little entertainment there was on a computer, still a market, but tiny compared to today. Cell phones were a revelation, even when they were the size of a brick - it was the future! Email on a Blackberry took work into cafes and car parks, connecting us but increasing the pressure to work, the pressure to deliver.

Technology gives and technology has consequences, those consequences are not always clear when things are invented. We could live in fear, or we can deal with consequences as we run forward. For the last 30 years or more we've taken the attitude of "move fast, break things", time will tell if that's a strategy we should start to question.

whoamivoyager profile image
Jonathan McIntosh

Love it

mortylen profile image

I grew up in a time without computers and smartphones. Later I became interested in technology. I enjoy my work as a developer, I enjoy learning new technologies every day and I spend a lot of time on it. Technologies influences everyone's life, it's part of daily routine. But it's still just a tool. I can't imagine life without interaction with other people, with nature... Technology will never replace that for me, I hope. 😀

panditapan profile image

"Technology was created by humans for humans. For those creating technology—coders, designers, anyone in tech—when was the last time you were truly amazed by a piece of software or hardware? Why was that?"

I've been amazed by tech since I read Urusula K Le Guin's A Rant about "Technology" and a book called The Magick of Matter by Felix Flicker. I quickly realized that while us humans can't control the elements like in avatar the last airbender, we definitely manipulate them through really weird incantations (aka maths, physics and all that jazz)! The most simplest of things is truly magical ~

We take a lot of what we have for granted, even a broom is magical stuff 🧙‍♀️

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