The dichotomy of technology

Author: Nigel Sielegar
Written on 12.02.2023

During the British occupation of India, New Delhi, the capital city, faced a poisonous serpent problem. There has been a rise in the number of people bitten by cobras, and the number of victims treated in the hospital kept rising year after year.

The government then did what any government would do, they created a bill that would incentivize people to help them handle the problem. The bill says if anyone kills a cobra and brings it to the city hall, the government would pay them for it. Soon after the announcement, people flocked to the city hall bringing dead cobras to be exchanged for money. After months of the program running, the city hall got a steady supply of dead cobras from the general public. However, peculiarly, the number of victims from this poisonous serpent doesn't seem to go down.

Upon closer investigation, the government realized that they failed to take into account the level of poverty of the public. Knowing that a dead cobra would bring them money, many people started to farm these cobras in their backyard. When they grow to a size, they just kill it and bring it to the city hall to be exchanged for money.

The government was undoubtedly enraged by this finding, and they decided to stop the program abruptly. But even this turns out to be a bad move. The people who have been farming cobras for the past many months, now have absolutely no use of these animals. They then just dispose of them outside which resulted even steeper increase in the number of cobra victims.

This anecdote is what we are facing today in our daily lives as we interact with technology. We often fail to think through the long-term effects of things, and we are currently in the cusps of an era where more technology would be bad for us. We often forget that we've been lied to by technology times and times again. The invention of cell phones promises us freedom, the ability to leave the office, travel, and be connected to our loved ones anywhere we want. But in reality, we have our job hunting us whenever we are. We can't stop checking our e-mails, and our work can call us at any moment without notice. Social media promises us to get closer together and it is supposed to make us happier. But in reality, social media creates social anxiety and a high degree of depression among the users. The cobra effect of technology is real.

With the rise of Artificial Intelligence which will happen at a breakneck speed, it would be wise for us to do an actual audit of our lives. Would more technology be good for us? While AI is inevitable and definitely will transform life as we know it, it is more important than ever that we realize and prioritize what matters for all of us.


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