The Relationship between technology and Progress The relationship between technology and progress has always been a source of disagreement despite the very obvious ways in which technology has changed everything around us…
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Therefore it has become necessary to ask this age old question once again. What exactly is the relationship between technology and progress? Is the change that is brought about by technology always positive? Is it at some point inevitable that once we accept the positive developments of technology we have at the same time have to accept its negative accompaniments? These are some of the questions that this paper shall seek to answer. There shall be a special focus on the book Thomas Edison and Modern America by Collins, Lisa and Gregory. There are three areas that I have identified in which the relationship between technology and progress is evident and straightforward. These areas are; an improvement in the quality of life, wealth creation, unemployment, the environment and transport and communication. I shall seek to discuss how technological inventions have brought about changes in the five named areas. This shall of course be done within the context of this book. Because it is obvious that the perspective to be gained here is mostly from Edison’s day, I shall also include a few sentences to provide the modern context. This shall make up for an all rounded understanding of this relationship (Changing Times, p2). The first area to be looked at is the area of quality of life. This is also the most controversial area as far as the relationship between technology and progress is concerned. The reason that there is a controversy at the centre of this area is because there are varying views on what quality of life means. What constitutes an improvement in the quality of one person might be an unnecessary vexation to another (Not Just An Idea, p 28).. There are several inventions made during Edison’s time that improved the quality of life of the people then. The light bulb for instance comes to mind. Before Edison invented the light bulb, many people used other rudimentary forms of lighting like oil lamps. These were known for the chocking fumes they produced and also obviously because there were not bright enough. It can’t also be ignored that oil came at a cost (Edison's Sparks of Interest noted in the New York Sun). The other lighting that was used in the day was gas lighting. It was however seen a dangerous. Edison used his skills to homes located in a square mile around Pearl Street, Manhattan. It is important at this point to however state that Edison did not invent the light bulb. The light had been scientifically and technologically available half a century earlier. He merely made it commercially available. He also built an electrical system around which it could operate (pg 60). There are many technologies in the present day that have affected the lives of people as much as the light bulb and the electrical system did the. The most important thing about the light bulb is that it allowed people to have the access to lighting and energy in general. The electrical system on the other hand, was the basis for several other inventions. It provided inventors with a source of light and energy from which other inventions were made (Notice from the Edison Company for Isolated Lighting, November 1885). Today, there is one technology that I can think of that has made as much impact. It is the computer. The computer by itself has been an amazing invention. We can use it for typing documents e.t.c. However, that is not where the main significance of the computer is to be found. The
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