Modern technology could well be disarming our energy levels by doing everything for us.
By Michaela Hall: Culture Columnist
Technology is something that continues to divide people- from the tech-savvy to the dubious.
The industry is undeniably growing to be the most powerful industry in the world, providing solutions and inventions that offer something new and surprising. With the spectrum of products and their abilities ever-expanding- is technology making us lazy?
Perhaps, the largest culprit of these devices with a reputation that often brands a user as lazy, are the household products that perform everyday tasks on behalf of their owner-for example, the highly popular Amazon Alexa and Echo cloud-based voice service devices.
With these devices, the user can ask for the weather, edit their calendar and appointments, ask for music to be played and this is all without even having to move. This also extends to the product’s management of smart home devices- controlling lights, heating, televisions, and doorbells. Again, meaning the necessity of having to flip a light switch, turn on the heating, turn the tv over or answer the door in person is taken away.
Even smartphones are now built with virtual assistants like Bixby and Alexa so that a user doesn’t even have to touch their screen to get an answer from google, they can just ask it instead and it will happily provide everything needed, set alarms, update on the weather or read and reply to messages and emails. In fact, more people are turning to these devices in their homes on the daily- theecoexperts.com highlights the fact that Amazon and Google have sold one hundred and fifty million smart speakers in just four years and that fifty-seven percent of homes in Britain alone, now contain at least one smart device.
Aside from the fact that the majority of households now seem to rely on smart technology in some way, it is also worth highlighting that aside from the extreme convenience they offer, for some these devices are a lifeline. For those in groups such as the elderly and those with disabilities who may struggle to carry out tasks manually day to day, these devices offer a solution to everyday problems, taking worry, danger, and unease away, allowing for more independence.
However, the more sceptical may argue that despite these obvious benefits for some, technology as a whole continually results in us moving less and less. Not only in our homes but also in other areas of our everyday lives such as in our shopping and cooking. In terms of shopping, e-commerce is an area in which there is increased spending with more people turning to company apps and websites for everything from clothes, gifts and their weekly shop to be conveniently delivered to their doorstep without the necessity of visiting.
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This, which used to be a leisurely activity, seems more of a chore to a large majority of consumers when the more convenient option of online shopping is so accessible.
This also extends into the way we eat- services like Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo, offer restaurant-quality food straight to the doorstep with a simple click of an app (or a request to Alexa) and studies suggest that now, some comment on how they enjoy ordering in restaurant food more than the experience of actually visiting a restaurant. Businessofapps.com reports that “Internationally, Uber Eats is the most popular food delivery service, with 66 million users” and that it “It controls 29 percent of the global food delivery market”.
The lockdown periods globally due to Covid-19 have intensified this behaviour too, from something which may have been an occasional behaviour to one which is habitual- resulting in people feeling more familiar with staying in and using technology to assist them with these areas of their lives than otherwise leaving their homes and visiting shops and restaurants.
Technology, after all, is defined as the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. Technology’s role is to provide solutions to issues and make life easier and it is undeniable that the calibre of technology globally is at an all-time high, from robots to global communications and safety devices. A lot of people may argue that some of the solutions on offer are offering a type of extreme convenience that is making us lazier in not needing to think about basic things. You could look at it this way- perhaps not all people need a computer to turn on their light switches for them.
However, it is important to consider that what is actually happening is something way bigger. In 2021, we are a more fast-paced, global, and forward-thinking society, utilising technology to make the world a better and safer place for each and every person, allowing us to provide, independence, knowledge, freedom, and practicality.
Thanks to smart home security devices, we have more control over the safety of our homes than ever before and smart devices can even have financial benefits- as the ecoexperts.com highlight, setting up a smart home could save you up to £450 per year.
The focus has now shifted in technology from exploring how we do things to how we can do less in a more efficient way. Is this in fact lazy? Or have societal changes in combination with technological advances resulted in our approaches to our time and energy being used in a way that is just as smart and innovative as the smart objects that we command?