How New Technology Changed Humanity Over the Last Few Years
There are several major ways in which technologies changed humanity over the last few decades, and that isn’t about to slow down.
Right from the Stone Age to the present hour, human curiosity and the craving for constant improvements has been the fuel that drives invention, especially in technology. Cavemen made the first sharp tools by bashing rocks on the ground in order to make hunting and building easier, and now we can harness the power of a sun through nuclear fission.
As a result of our need to constantly invent and adapt technologies to make our lives better and easier, our modern society is highly dependent on various technologies that were invented and refined through the years. Everything we do, ranging from how we do business to how we communicate with people how we live our daily lives is continually being influenced by technology. And that is something that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
Technology is, in many ways, advancing at an exponential pace. The technological gap over the last 50 years is significantly more than that of the 50 years prior, and the last 100 years have seen society changes thanks in huge part to technology far more than the 100 years prior.
This century alone, although we’ve barely spent 18 years in the new millennium, is already full of incredible new technologies that would have seemed impossible even a few decades ago. Some of the recent introductions are new, while others are merely improvements to older creations. Either way, technology is inexorably linked to our modern society.
Below are just a few of the ways in which technology has helped to redefine and reshape humanity over the last 20 years.
If you were asked what the greatest innovation in shopping today was, you’re probably going to say something about the ability to buy anything you want anywhere you are. But while online retailers like Amazon have undoubtedly changed the shopping landscape, they are just one part of the equation.
In the last decade, ecommerce has completely revolutionized online business, and not just in the way shoppers obtain their goods, but in the way we look at buying and selling products. Buying and selling are much easier and new opportunities have evolved for countless businesses that just wouldn’t have been possible 30 years ago. There are consequences, of course, especially in form of the death of brick and mortar stores. For the larger businesses you can generally – and fairly – blame their lack of willingness to change and adapt, but local business with physical storefronts have taken a hit. The flipside is that more and more people have been able to launch online-only stores that operate at a fraction of the costs of physical locations.
Cybercrimes are also on the increase, especially those perpetrated by third parties when they get access to people’s personal information, something all online stores need.
It seems so obvious now given how integrated online bank has become, but it wasn’t so long ago that paying for anything at the bank or any other financial institution usually involved the long and often rigorous process of signing various documents with an attendant. Writing a check sometimes required multiple forms of ID, and carrying cash was – and still is – a hassle.
However, the tides have changed. Online banking now makes it very easy to send and receive money online, pay your bills, and purchase items without leaving your house. This was not possible two decades ago. That also makes it easier to track your spending, and thereby budget. At the end of each month, you can group your purchases and see where you can save money. Maybe last month you ate out several times and saw a spike in spending there, so this month you eat at home more often. Budgeting is nothing new, of course, but online banking makes it easier than ever before.
The emergence of Facebook and other social media platforms has completely redefined networking… and arguably, all society. Connecting with people is now easier than it has ever been. Social media is undoubtedly one of the most significant advancements of the new millennium – for better and worse.
While social media was initially introduced as a way to stay in touch with people, it has evolved to become the source of information for millions of people around the world. There are some incredible benefits to that. One of the best examples is the Arab Spring, which relied in part on social media to bypass restrictive government censors. It has also helped to spread the word of tragedies around the world, which in turn helps to get people involved in a way that broadcast news and word of mouth could never hope to touch.
The other side of the coin, however, is that social media has also proven to be an excellent way to spread misinformation. It might be years before we know the full consequences of this alarming new trend, but it is a tradeoff people are being forced to accept.
For an example of how smartphones have changed society, all you need to do is go outside and find a group of people. It won’t take long – probably just a matter of seconds – before you see someone staring at their handheld screen.
It’s hard to understate the impact that smartphones have had on our society and will continue to have for years to come. They are a source of information in a way very few people a few decades back even imagined possible. Imagine telling someone from 1987 that you had a device in your pocket capable of accessing pretty much all known information on the planet, that could connect you to anyone anywhere, could offer you endless entertainment options, and it’s a high-quality camera to boot. They can even take you into another world of sorts with virtual reality.
It would blow their minds, and yet today we have not only accepted them as an integral part of our society, but we are always looking for the next upgrade. And yet smartphones are still a new invention. Tracing back the first smartphone gets a little murky, but you can make a solid argument that the current wave of consumer-friendly devices that were meant for more than just work really kicked off with the first iPhone, which was released just ten years ago.
The tech has come a long way since then, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
One of the most impactful industries over the last few years is without question, the green sector – although at this point “green” can mean almost anything.
Green technology initially signified technology that was environmentally friendly, and that usually meant that it augmented or replaced something that was potentially harmful to the environment. But its noble ideals, it was still mostly a niche market. It also tended to cost more than its non-green counterpart, regardless of which specific industry it was aiming for. That has changed.
Green tech is no longer a separate thing in most cases, it is a basic pillar of current technologies, especially those on a larger scale. Buildings are constructed with the environmental impact in mind, power systems are meant to be as resource-friendly and non-polluting as possible, vehicles are touting their low-to-zero emission engines, and the list goes on. More than that, however, are the ways thinking of going green is poised to change society in major ways. For example, Elon Musk’s concept of a Hyperloop train system will connect cities like never before. It will also make travel faster than ever, and it will do so in a way that produced significantly less pollution than cars or trains. It is green, but it is also the best option.
The same is true for energy sources. There are always stories about cold fusion discoveries, which would produce endless, clean amount of energy at room temperatures, but there are also projects underway to create replacement fuel sources that will cost less, give off no pollution, and are reusable. Some of these are a few years away at least, but they are coming, and they will change the world.