When Apollo 11 landed on the moon, it gave the world a reason to overcome big problems. Some examples Pontin uses about technology being useful were how we built a stronger vaccine for popular diseases. These diseases were harmful as doctors weren’t able to prevent sickness from spreading or finding the root of the problem. Yet, from 1950-1977, we successfully created the first vaccine that eliminated smallpox and developed a vaccine for polio. The use of technology to create these vaccines are the reason why the younger generation such me do not have smallpox, polio, tuberculosis, or measles.
Technology has even improved transportation. When the airplane was first introduced, the technology sounded impossible for the older generation; therefore, how can a flying machine take you to another country in a day? These technologies created in the past has become useful for mankind because it allows us to live easily and conveniently, but also, let us know that the big problems can be solved if we prioritize it.
However, even the best of technology has not solved the big problems around the world. Pontin explained how the way we utilize technologies nowadays aren’t meant to solve big problems. Instead, they’re being used for commercializing or making the web world faster. Today, we have used technology to create social media, finding soul mates, or a different economy system (bitcoins). But these things cannot stop cancer or famine. I mean you can use social media to find funds for somebody who cannot afford chemotherapy or food, but it still does not produce a long-term solution.
To an extent, Pontin doesn’t outright say technology cannot be used to fix our problems. Instead, he brings up 3 key reasons that explain why we haven’t used technology to its fullest capacity. These reasons include not being able to understand the situation, the decision to not solve the big problem, and the problem cannot be solved through technology. Most of these reasons can really be blamed on our political system. To our politicians, prioritizing our economy is more important than investing on our wonder. Therefore, why should we spend $14 billion dollars on researching renewable energy for cheap when we can spend half that amount on cheap petroleum and coals which are abundant in many countries. The concept of not worrying about the big problem is probably, to me, a huge factor why many people aren’t using technology to solve the problems. We don’t want to spend more money on something that sounds impossible when we can just go for smaller problems that are cheaper and easier to fix.
Although human beings are considered the most intelligent mammals on Earth, we still have questions that we cannot comprehend. Many big problems in the world cannot be answered because we don’t know where to start and how to answer all the questions. Cancer has been a long-term disease that we have not found a solution. Pontin mentioned how Nixon launched a project on finding a cure for cancer, yet, it has only been 10 years since we found a temporary cure for cancer. Cancer is very intricate. There are many types of cancer that affect the different part of our organisms. And even today, there is not a single person that knows everything about the body and its function. When we find a solution for cancer, another problem comes up and we have to start the research progress again. Now, this isn’t a reason why technology has not been used in the future. Instead, not being able to understand the problem is the reason why haven’t established a successful technology. The technology has to keep modifying to endure the vigorous changes of the problem. Chemotherapy is a technology that slowly killed the bacteria affecting certain organisms, but we found out over time that some bacteria can resist these therapy. Thus, the problems prolong and the time frame to use technology is delayed.
Referencing back to how the political system is the cause of our defiant usage of technology, Pontin explained how some big problems are not caused or cannot be fixed through technology. He used the example famine that represented a government issue on managing the big problem. Famine results when government mishandled an issue or made a terrible decision that affected the citizens. For example, Somalia is a collapsed state that have a government that barely exist and a high percentage of famine. The government doesn’t know how to manage their constituents and cowards away from the rebellious group that threatens to terrorize the country. How can technology solve this problem? We cannot create a robot to stop the war in Somalia or create a cooking machine to create meals when there are no ingredients or energy that will allow the machine to do its job. This is all in the hands of the government to fix this problem. The governments must rebuild their country first and then solve big problems using technologies.
Overall, I think Pontin’s ideas were self-explanatory and eye-opening about technology. However, I think the main point is the word ‘big problems.’ We all have a different definition of ‘big problem.’ To me, I think being a handicap is a big problem. It might not be a famine kind of problem or an environmental problem, but it is a problem that affects someone life. I have read a few articles that have introduced a treatment for spinal cord problem. People with spinal cord problem are basically immobilized. Our spinal cord is important in coordinating our muscle and brain. Yet, in New York, a woman who was in a car accident suffered a spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed.
Her brain told her to move her legs but her legs muscle refused to move. A doctor decided to implant an electrical stimulator on her spinal cord that produces an electrical field to allow the spinal cord nerve cells to remember how to walk. I consider this as using technology for the big problem because it gives hope to anyone with a spinal problem to be able to walk and do things without having the struggle of small tasks like opening a door or getting inside a car. The development of solving spinal cord injuries will introduce more development for other problems relating to your body.
It is not that we don’t care about solving problems. It is the fact that we need support and understanding of the problem to utilize technologies to help us fix these big problems. If our political leaders can help finance our research or show more attention to the problems, we will eventually be able to fix it using technology. And if we continue researching and never giving up, we will understand the problem. For now, we must proceed to use our time wisely and solve the small problems that will give us the answers to the big problems. Nothing is inevitable. Everything can be solved.
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