From the beginning of mankind when we first learnt to harness the power of fire to this modern age where the digital economy is upon us, technology has been with us every step of the way.
Throughout history, we have called it by various names, from science to research to naming entire centuries behind it like the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and the 19th Century. But to accurately understand why our society is so dependant on technology for their economic growth, we must first realise the meaning behind technology development.
The Role of Technology in Economic Development
Before we delve deeper into the impact of technology, we first need to understand the two pillars of economic growth that a society leans on. Resources, renewable as well as non-renewable and of course human resource forms one of those pillars, but the lion’s share of the heavy lifting of economic development is handled by Technology alone.
(1) Utilization of Natural Resources
Many countries are rich in natural resources and have abundant supplies of metals like iron, aluminium and also energy sources like petrol and coal. But without the proper technology to tap into these resources and convert them into usable commodities, economic development of the region comes to a stand still.
In fact, as time passes and renewable resources become less viable for environmental reasons, it is the development of technology that has opened up new power sources from hydel to wind and of course, nuclear.
(2) Increasing The Effectiveness of Capital Investment
While putting in more money equates to having more labour and resources at hand, without technology development it is not possible to use the excess capital to produce a better quality product.
(3) Optimum Time Management
One of the spheres where the impact of technology is most evident is in industries where technological advancements help speed up the assembly lines manifold. Even in personal lives, technology in everyday appliances and gadgets help us shave off a precious few minutes that we can spend doing what we love.
(4) Communication and International Trade
One of the main reasons that the barter system came to exist was that with technology at their disposal the earliest humans could finally produce more than they needed. This holds true even now and with technical advancements all across countries across the world can trade with each other leading to mutual prosperity and increased quality of life.
(5) Increased Scope of Research
Even though we are standing on the brink of a digital economy, there is still a lot that ails the general populous from diseases to other walks of life. With the advancement of technology, it is possible to conduct ever more research to solve these problems and thus open up new avenues of economic development for society.
(6) Holistic Development Across All Sectors
Technology doesn’t just impact one tiny segment of society or economy. It drives the entire humanity forward towards a better living standard. The laborers have to work less and can minimize their risk at work. Profit margins soar which means that the national income as well as the ability for the government to spend more on its people grows. The development of technology is, in essence, a timeline of the evolution of mankind.
As with every coin, there is a flip side to technology as well. Like the one bearing a sword, it depends on the ideas of the bearer of technology how they choose to use it. When in wrong hands, technology can inflict irreparable damage not only to the earth that we inhabit but to our fragile human psyche as well.
Already we see a manifestation of this in social media and online networks where we have secluded ourselves from human interaction while expanding our presence on the Internet.
Summing the development of technology up, in a nutshell, is very tough as the long term effects on society are yet unintelligible. But in the words of the famous Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus,
Unprecedented technological capabilities combined with unlimited human creativity have given us tremendous power to take on intractable problems like poverty, unemployment, disease, and environmental degradation. Our challenge is to translate this extraordinary potential into meaningful change.