Society has come a long way from the use of stone tools and wooden huts. Thanks to technology, we've been able to control our own fates, instead of finding ourselves at the whim of nature and its harsh nature. We've created global communication networks that can relay information from one part of the world to the opposite side in seconds, and push the boundaries of our scientific understanding and applications.

Our lives today are centered around the use of technology, which provides us the tools for our work and the basis for our pleasure. For many subjects, technology has been an essential tool in solving problems and unlocking the mysteries hidden in this world, spanning from the atomic level up to the galactic. There is no doubt that technology is one of the major factors for the accumulation of knowledge present in all scientific disciplines today. As beneficial as technology has been, however, it also has its detrimental effects.

At any moment, we have the ability to find almost anything – the Internet has been a major player in providing us with on-the-spot information for anyone wanting to solve a problem or satisfy his or her curiosity. The amount of technology that we utilize to help us solve, for example, modeling and mathematical problems has dulled our motivation to fervently pursue our respective topics. In regards to communication, people in past times found themselves in more isolation, separated to a higher degree than in our present society. We can ask for help at any time, simply by typing words into our computer and clicking the mouse a few times. In the past, though, people did not have the ability to instantly communicate, and more or less had to solve problems out in detached groups. There was no global database, only parts of facts and observations. If you had a problem, you had no choice but to solve it with the general tools you had in the area. It forced people to think efficiently and effectively and work together with limited resources. In today's world, with the amount of collected knowledge and communication we have now, one could argue that we no longer need to think as critically. Although we have so much knowledge, it does not mean we immediately know how to use it. It is one thing to have the information at our fingertips, but it's another to know when and how to apply it.

No one can doubt how much technology has given us comfort and pleasure. From the air conditioners and heaters that are at our control to keep us comfortable to the video games that occupy literally millions of hours of our time, technology has proved itself to be an excellent companion in many ways. However, this has made us complacent, preventing us from pursuing and exploring scientific fields. With the technology we have today, one can feel as if she or he does not need to do anything else – why do anything else when we can relish in the pleasure that technology can provide to us? Technology, in a sense, can make us less receptive to the real-world, and dull our desire to continually improve and add to our collective knowledge.

Technology has helped us in countless ways, but it is only a tool. It also has unfortunate and relatively hidden consequences. By becoming overly reliant on it, we put ourselves in a position where it acts like an addictive drug – we rely more and on it with each day, in exchange for health and mental ability. Although it is inevitable that we must use technology for our day to day lives, it helps to disconnect from it every once in a while.

— Jan Urbano is a junior in biochemistry and molecular biology. He can be reached at jurbano@utk.edu.