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What would Happen if Technology Ceased to Exist?

By Edited Jan 18, 2016 1 2

Technology has been completely integrated into our daily lives. As the years go, it perhaps becomes harder and harder to imagine what life would be like if technology ceased to exist. If you think about it, almost everything we interact with has some kind of tech component attached to it. Additionally, there isn't much associated in our lives today which doesn't have some sort of dependence on technology and/or automation.

Even just a generation or two ago there were far less gadgets, ones which helped us tremendously, but did not impact our daily existence. For instance, if you used a typewriter with correct-tape or had the "Pong" video game that connected to your television, you were up-to-date on the latest amazing gadgets. These items were nice enhancements on our lives, but we certainly didn't rely upon them for our existence. This was high-tech since the day TVs had gone color.

Pong video game
Credit: Bill Bradford via Flickr/CC by 2.0

Pong anyone?

Those of us old enough to fondly remember the pre-Internet, pre-microwave, pre-cable TV, and the pre-home video game era have seen a big transformation, even since the 1970s. Since then, technology has become so immersed into everyday life, it is hard to imagine going backward.  Many people would likely say they couldn't live without their mobile or microwave. Can you visualize not having a computer, cellphone, ability to stream movies, or a camera that you could get prints from immediately?

Limited Access Zooms to Instant Gratification

There was a time when banking hours were strictly open from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., and if you needed cash, you were either out of luck or had to borrow it from a family member or a friend. Although, one option might have been to go to the local grocery store, spend a little money and write a check for up to $25 over the purchased amount; incidentally a real person assisted you in making this transaction, not the self-checkout lines groceries use today.

In days of yesteryear, the idea of sticking a card in an ATM and getting money out would have probably been mind-blowing to most people, as would be the idea of scanning your own groceries. Yet today, these activities are second-nature nowadays, no one even really thinks much about it as they head to the bank or go grocery shopping.

ATM
Credit: Leigh Goessl

Yet, once upon a time a real person manned the checkout line and the cash register made loud bell noises as it awkwardly rang up your purchase, very unlike the quick processing which typically occurs today, perhaps excepting those occasional times when the register's computer acts up and you have to wait for an associate to adjust or reset it.  

Have We Become Complacent?

These days we have become reliant on technology and, perhaps in some ways, it has created levels of complacency. Figure much of the time people aren't aware of the way a computer is even running a process in the background; we typically just take for granted the task will be completed without too much effort on our part.

Years ago I worked in a college setting, and it surprised me that so many students had no clue how to fill out their parents' blank check for tuition. Staff used to fill in the blanks on pre-signed checks. Yet, thinking about it, it occurred to me many of these students didn't grow up in an age before credit cards and ATMs were used too often. For instance, cashiers used to manually process credit cards, not zip them through an automated machine. That experience is one of the things that got me thinking - what would happen if technology stopped?

How much of a difficult time would we, as a society, have adjusting back to pre-technology days? If a number of young adults perhaps have no idea how to write a check is any indicator, this possibly makes a strong statement as to how society has let automation replace many life-skills. For instance, how many people know how to file their taxes on paper? Today various versions of software have replaced that know-how people used to need to possess.  For the most part, for this and other tasks we do, we follow the prompts. Outside of those working on the business end or are in tech, how many of us understand the processes behind the machines?

The current and future generations will be raised with technology and haven't the slightest idea what it was like before. While progress has been steadily accomplished since the beginning of civilization (pre-civilization really), with the ability of today's hi-tech developments, it seems to occur a lot faster now than in previous centuries. Which makes sense, since the progress between the 19th and 20th centuries was also pretty dramatic.

Reflecting Back on Earlier Days

Contrasting the Past and Present

It's hard to imagine a time where there were no drivers causing accidents while using cellphones and people weren't too worried about identity theft. Sure, there was distracted driving, but not on the level it is today. According to Distraction.gov,

"Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction." 1

Years ago no one was highly concerned with kids not getting enough exercise because this issue wasn't existent; children were so busy running around and playing outside instead of playing video games and congregating on X-Box or other online video game communities. Friendships were formed at the local playground, not on Facebook or Twitter.

Ouya Video Game Console and Controller

If technology disappeared these issues would pretty much disappear.

Mobile contracts and Internet connection charges would fade away too. People could communicate with their colleagues personally rather than through email. If technology vanished, life would certainly be a lot simpler in many ways. Yet, on the other hand, life as we know it now would drastically change and many opportunities would potentially be lost. And so much else we depend upon would also cease to exist.

What if Tech Disappeared?

Would it be so awful if technology suddenly disappeared? Maybe. However, after a period of mass chaos occurred, maybe not. With some adjusting we would likely all survive without all the high-tech stuff. The days when the phrase "I want my MTV" meant we'd actually view true music videos on TV were pretty cool, even if we couldn't watch the videos from our smartphones on YouTube. Not so bad, was it?

On the flip side, technology has definitely enhanced life in many ways - this cannot be disputed. And things are likely to continue to progress at the rapid rate it has in recent decades. If this article were written 10 years from now, we'd probably be talking about autonomous cars being mainstream. Not to mention other products that are currently in development as augmented reality and wearable tech become more popular. Overall, the line between humans and tech will be significantly more blurred.

Although, a little less tech, more self-reliance, outdoors and personal interaction perhaps wouldn't be such a bad thing either, would it?

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Comments

Jan 20, 2015 10:40am
HLesley
I'm an absolutely ancient dinosaur. When I was a kid we didn't have electric light, we had gas light, and the milkman made his deliveries with a horse and cart! But I have really noticed that technology is changing the way we communicate. In pre-TV days talking to each other was a form of entertainment, and people used to share stories. Now we just text. Also, life moved at a slower pace, and people seemed to have a lot more patience.
Jan 20, 2015 12:39pm
LeighGoessl
It really has, hasn't it? It's an interesting dynamic and not one I'm sure I'm crazy about...the lack of patience is a good point, thanks.

Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts Lesley, very appreciated.
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Bibliography

  1. "Statistics." Distraction.Gov. 18/01/2016 <Web >

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