Written by YN Language improvement by Mr Kwan Note: This contains the main body paragraphs only. There is no introduction and conclusion
Primarily, technological advancements have the potential to usher in new horizons while simultaneously narrowing the chasm of economic inequality. Often, a conventional, well-paying job can remain elusive for a multitude of individuals, particularly those ensnared in the cyclical grip of poverty, or those who have not traversed the traditional educational route, or even those aspiring to forge innovative pathways. For instance, in 2018, Jin Guanel, hailing from a village background, found himself knee-deep in debt while navigating the streets of Lijiang, Yunwe, peddling his wares. Leveraging the strides in digital media, he metamorphosed into Brother Pomegranate, an internet sensation boasting 73 million followers and generating a staggering 30 million yuan ($46 million) in sales in 2020. Within a mere two minutes on Douyin, he successfully sold 6 million yuan worth of pomegranates. Through this transformative journey, he not only managed to settle his debts but also established a stable income stream by harnessing the power of digital media and its technological advancements.
Another compelling illustration is found in the story of Jiantao Tan, a widely recognized YouTube personality and the Chief Executive Officer of Tontin Agricultural Media. Despite lacking a university degree, a commonly assumed prerequisite for securing lucrative and stable employment, Tan has successfully commanded a substantial income through the surge in digital technology. His trajectory exemplifies how technological advancements can illuminate new horizons and mitigate economic disparities, allowing individuals to thrive in the contemporary digital landscape.
Secondly, technological advancements serve as the pivotal tool to address myriad urgent global issues. Numerous challenges of global impact, such as climate change and inaccessible healthcare in developing nations, demand immediate attention, and technology can play a transformative role in resolving these pressing concerns. For instance, consider the case of wind energy — often hailed as a clean energy source. Despite its environmental benefits, the industry grapples with a massive waste problem associated with wind turbine blades. Ingeniously, strides in technology have facilitated the development of sustainable solutions. By combining glass fibers with a plant-derived polymer and a synthetic counterpart, engineers have devised a recyclable composite material. This material not only enhances the longevity of turbine blades but also finds applications in diverse products, including new turbine blades, laptop covers, power tools, and even consumables like gummy bear candies.
Another exemplary illustration underscores how technological advancements can wield a transformative influence in disease control. Malaria stands as a leading cause of death in Burkina Faso, where nearly the entire population is at risk of contracting the disease. Globally, Malaria alone affected approximately 619,000 people in 2021, according to the World Health Organization. Leveraging technological advancements in genetic technology, researchers have devised methods to sterilise male mosquito species responsible for transmitting malaria. This innovative approach ensures that these mosquitoes do not produce viable offspring, ultimately curbing the spread of the disease. The potential of this advancement extends beyond malaria, encompassing diseases such as yellow fever, dengue, and Zika, thereby presenting a comprehensive solution to combat vector-borne illnesses.
However, technological advancements possess the dual capacity to exacerbate global issues as well. Despite their potential to address pressing global challenges such as climate change and healthcare, they can also contribute to the worsening of climate change and other distinct issues. While technological innovations may enhance income streams, as exemplified in the realm of cryptocurrencies, they can simultaneously act as agents that hasten environmental degradation.
Take, for instance, the surge in popularity of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), a phenomenon driven by their integration into blockchain platforms. Blockchain, essentially a decentralised ledger accessible to everyone, relies on miners who utilise computational power to validate transactions and secure the network. According to artist Mmeo Alter, mining a single Ethereum-based NFT consumes a staggering 142 kWh of energy, resulting in the release of 20.1 pounds of CO2 for every NFT creation. This carbon output is equivalent to burning one gallon of gasoline. Consequently, these advancements can pose environmental challenges.
Furthermore, concerns extend to data privacy. In 2020, numerous individuals experienced death threats, blackmail, and racial slurs after the security of Ring's smart cameras was compromised by hackers. Ring, the company behind these cameras, has faced scrutiny for its surveillance-based business model, deemed incompatible with civil rights and democratic values. This technological innovation, while intended to enhance security, has inadvertently exacerbated global issues by compromising privacy and undermining democratic principles.