Has the increasing power and ubiquity of technology made our lives better overall? Think about this in relation to the radical social, economic and political changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution.
Yes. Although the Industrial revolution did have negative impacts socially and environmentally, these advancements overall were crucial to the progression of society and bound to happen. Yes, it did in introduce new abuses in the factory workplace, but similar abuses were seen and dealt with on plantations with slaves. Treating people like crap was not brought on by the industrial revolution. It might have created a new outlet for it, but it is not to blame for these social ramifications. Politically, the industrial revolution helped to simplify foreign interaction, made leaders closer to their people, and promoted nationalism across Europe. These positive effects were due to the transportation, press, and product advancements. I believe the economic effects of the revolution were also positive because each class gained economic success throughout the revolution. Overall, the increasing power of technology has made our lives more accessible, increased human interaction, and transformed the world’s economy in way that never could have happened with out the inventions and competition of the industrial revolution. Mary.
I think that overall the progress of technology has improved our lives. We have plenty of food to eat, can build safer structures, and are capable of controlling diseases that used to cut the lives of many children short. However, for every problem that technology solves it is possible for it to create another problem. It is important for humans to always remember that they have created technology to use it, not be used by it. This principle is very important to remember with regard to the Industrial Revolution. As the rise of factories allowed more goods to be mass produced at a lower cost, they also created a host of other consequences, some of which were neutral or negative. As more poor moved to the cities to work in factories, their living conditions were routinely squalid and their wages and hours were almost impossibly difficult. In addition, the economic shift from wealth in land to wealth in industry led to more inequality. However, even with these negative effects, technology would proceed to eliminate many of these problems and improve the lives of even the factory worker. Sanitation, transportation, and food production were all transformed as a result of technology and gaves working families new opportunities. Shredder
I also believe that the improvement of technology increased the quality of our lifestyle. We are not only able to provide ourselves with that which we need, aka food, shelter, and good health, but we are also capable of being more efficient therefore creating time for leisure so that our entire life is not forced to be spent working. And while there were many negative side effects to the industrial revolution, like Mary said above, there were similar abuses and difficulties pre-industrialization. Poor harvests, famines, and bad weather could easily wipe out an entire harvest leaving entire families starving. The Enclosure Movement in itself was an abuse of power as farmers were kicked off of once public property. Although there were hardships as people began to flood the cities, it was not the introduction of adversities and abuse for most people. While there was things that needed to be done about living conditions in the cities as technology improved and advanced, so did living conditions as they used this technology in new forms. Hannah
The increasing power of technology has made our lives better, yet it causes long-term instability as it plays to capitalistic avarice and widens the inequality gap in the short and long term, increasing tensions. Firstly, technology may provide accelerated economic growth as it has in the past two hundred years, but the technological advancements have detracted from the other part of intensive economic growth: good law making. The giant wave of development that brought a rapid increase in standard of living weaned us onto the belief that our economic model should be one of constant growth, when in reality, constant growth leads to persistently rising prices and an inflationary cycle which then collapses into a deflationary cycle. Essentially, this technology allows us to believe that economic growth should be permanent so we craft fiscal policies that support rapid growth and then forget that this rapid growth without constant technological development leads to our demise. The 2008 crisis demonstrates this flawed principle in policy making and it was the IR’s economic model of rapid tech growth that led us into this trap. It basically distorts our economic models. Second, Shredder is right when he says that Industrial Revolutions lead to rising inequality and that this rise is temporary, as we’ve seen in the French revolutions. What he doesn’t realize is that though the actual gap is temporary and wages eventually rise for lower classes as government policies respond to class abuse, this temporary rise creates an underlying animosity between classes that's permanent. In bad times, the lower class now always get angry at the upper classes for continuing to profit, and this underlying animosity was in part a product of the IR as it was not present to the same extent beforehand.
-Richmond (sorry this is so long I got carried away)
Overall I do believe technology has benefitted all of us not only today but also during the Industrial Revolution. It is important to recognize the negative aspects in regards to sanitation, working environments in factories, and also the cramped living quarters of many, but as Matthew said technology would improve and in some cases eliminate these conditions with time. On the other hand, the new technology of this period increased the amount of jobs available and also increased production rates drastically, which would most definitely help the economy across Europe. While many workers did not hold high positions and worked for minimum wage, they were still able to make a living for themselves. I think the biggest positive impact of the Industrial Revolution is the fact that it started a ripple effect, which would lead to new efficient means of transportation, communication, and the improvement of old inventions. Though there are many speculations as to whether technology is harmful in our world today, I believe if we use it for efficient reasons, it does enhance our lives. -Kavitha
I also think that overall technology has made our lives better. I agree with what everyone else has said, but only to an extent. Technology has brought people together. It has created leisure time, a better standard of living, promoted economic growth and spread democracy. It is said that necessity is the mother of invention; when we started inventing unnecessary technology is when technology stopped improving our quality of life. Thoreau argues that inventions are “improved means to an unimproved end.” He argues that though a cart may decrease travel time, it also causes man to miss the beauty of nature in his rush and causes him to gradually lose his ability to walk. The unnecessary inventions spurred on by the industrial revolution hinder society as much as they help it. (Laura)
Yes. Even though the Industrial Revolution intensified class tensions and social stratification in Europe and clearly had a negative impact on the environment, particularly in industrial hotbeds like Manchester, I believe that the good outweighed the bad. Consider this question: which century would you rather live in – the 18th or the 21st? I believe that the increased presence of technology has created vast positive change in nearly all areas of our lives. Think about the foods you eat – the way in which they are prepared and the way in which they make it onto your dinner table. Think about the medicines you take and thus the diseases that you no longer have to worry about. Think about your means of transportation on a day-to-day basis, the appliances in your homes, sanitation in your cities, and most obviously, your electronic devices. Innovation in these areas has made our daily routines more streamlined and efficient (like, say, the bureaucracy of a new monarch…). This innovation has allowed us to live free of the chronic burdens and worries of somebody living in the time before the IR, and the convenience that technology brings is indispensable to us, since humans are inherently lazy (see Mr. Frohlich on the Lazy Principle). Technology allows us to choose whether to live an unburdened life but still frees up enough time for us to pursue more than we ever could without its aid if we so desire. If I had to choose between living in the 18th and the 21st centuries, I would pick the 21st. (Chuma)
No. As any biologist will say. Simplest is always better. The simplest bacteria have survived with relative ease on this planet longer than any other living thing. In the same light, as human’s population grew and thus our need for technology we created exponentially more problems then we solved, as I believe Richmond was slightly referencing. If we had maintained a state of simple hunter-gather tribes we would exist in small but regulated numbers that could survive of relatively large amounts of open land. Yes, we still would have to deal with things like disease and other bothersome aspects that technology had helped but overall, the pros of simple life, far outweigh the cons of industrialized advanced life. (MDog)
Like the multitude of others before me, I too feel that the increase in power and range of technology has been truly beneficial to our lives. Technology has allowed for the greater spread of impactful ideas, the dramatic increase in life expectancy due to the prevention and cure of deadly diseases, and a myriad of other beneficial results. However, the advancement of technology as a result of the Industrial Revolution has also proven to be quite costly and detrimental in the social, economic, and political arenas. For example, the Industrial Revolution caused the influx of many people to the urban areas, which caused the increase in pollution and great poverty in the urban areas as well. Additionally, the Industrial Revolution proved to have a negative impact in the economy. As a result of the Industrial Revolution, a greater gap between the rich and the poor emerged. Finally, the Industrial Revolution proved greatly beneficial in the political arena because it allowed for the world to feel “smaller,” connecting countries by radical ideas and movements. So, to conclude, it is evident that the increase in the power of technology has had both positive and negative outcomes. (Ricky)
Agreeing with most everyone else, yes I do think the advance of technology has made our lives better. The Industrial Revolution definitely brought about things that were not particularly beneficial such as worse working conditions, but overall the large impact had an extremely positive effect. With every revolution there is a down side, and the industrial revolution was no different. But specifically speaking of a social, economic, and political mindset, there were strong advancements. Socially there was a much larger gateway to be able to travel. Economically jobs grew exponentially. Politically ideas were able to spread much faster. There seemed to be more of what people wanted, not necessarily a perfect world, but more quantity over quality. -Sarah
Yes, I believe that technology has significantly affected and improved our lives. Although the Industrial Revolution brought about harsh working conditions for the working class and an increased gap between the social classes, it ultimately built a global economy that connected countries together in a "smaller" world. Technology allows for ideas and insights to spread more quickly and more efficiently, and without it, countries would feel more isolated. However, the rise of technology and the spread of industrialism has many negative effects, like pollution, increased social rigidity, and increased poverty in urban areas. Sometimes we become so wrapped up in the technology of our modern world that we become too dependent upon it. Overall though, I think that the advantages of technology and industrialism outweigh the disadvantages. (Mackenzie)
Technology has drastically improved the lives of humans and makes almost everything in our lives easier. With every advance in technology, there is poetential for a greater effect or more efficient design, and serves as a measure of the human race's collective knowledge attained throughout the course of our existence. The industrial Revolution may have created a large wealth gap at first, but as technology continued to advance by leaps and bounds, naturally older technology became cheaper and more available to the lower classes, so they benefit as well. Whereas generation of serfs after serfs plowed the fields in medieval times, the working class was still able to advance in their quality of life through the development of technologies only available to the rich at first. Industrialization relies on consumer markets, consumers gain importance as this system takes hold, and ultimately benefit in a system that relies on the newest and best design of products. The working class is unjustifiably forced to work in terrible conditions, but that is not the fault of technology, but at the cost of increased output and profitability. This is not a technological flaw, but a human flaw, and if we were willing to make less money at the cost of improving the lives of those who help manufacture the products, class tensions would not be nearly as apparent. Sadly this is becoming ever more rare in the industrialized, globalized, capitalist economy that dominates the world today. Jordan