Technology: Who has the upper hand?

Media theory teaches us that we live in an increasingly technologically enhanced world. The debate of control within this new technologically rich land started with two opposing opinions – a technologically deterministic and a humanist one. Marshall McLuhan representing the former with claims of technology turning into extensions of the human body, rather than objects completely separated from us. This suggests that technology does have a certain degree of control over us, as it is (literately, in cases of medical implants) inseparable from us. His view, however, was widely criticized by Raymond Williams (and scholars after him) as technologically deterministic – McLuhan regards humans as having no control, everything being determined by technology. Williams, on the other hand, believed that humans do control everything, including the technology they have created.

Everyday experience shows us that there is indeed truth in both of these contradictory claims. We do have control over technology but at the same time we have become dependant on it – to wake us up in the morning, give us directions, play music, provide us with information on just about anything. But for the lack of an emotional connection, there might even be some truth in the saying: Google is your best friend.

It seems that we have become used to dealing with technology on daily (hourly?) basis to the point where it becomes mundane. Yet we are well aware of the rapid technological developments and are looking forward to any and all new products. It does seem like certain science-fiction scenarios may yet be reality. With more and more tales of artificial life come also the tales of a dystopian future. A future, where human will no longer have any control or use, machines taking over. Some think these theories are far-fetched, yet even skeptics agree that technology is dominating our lives.

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Let us take a step back and question this (now commonly accepted) claim. Is technology dominating our lives? And if so, what are its limits? After all, if a plane with 239 passengers on board can disappear into thin air without a trace to follow, is technology as powerful as we deem it to be?

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