Technology has come a long way since the computers of the 1950s. While Baby Boomers grew up with the dream to one day use a computer, children today are playing games on smartphones before they can walk. Improvements in technology have made this possible and have had an enormous impact on accessibility.
Faster, Better & Cheaper
Technological developments have given billions of people in the world the ability to communicate with one another. Today’s internet and technology are available at incredible speeds which allow for instantaneous communication across the globe.
Transferring money or sensitive data is equally quick, easy and secure. In fact, it is safer to send money today than at any other time in human history – no chance of highway bandits or of an envelope full of cash getting lost in the mail!
What’s more, all of the technology is available at an incredibly low-cost. In 2016 a phone company in India finally got permission to release their $4 smart phone. The phone, like premium smartphones, allows its users to call, text, snap, message or broadcast their ideas to the entire world for only $4.
In both the developed and developing worlds, data access is abundant and readily available. Outdated technology like SMS and MMS are actually more expensive than data, let alone the fact that most major cities have free wifi.
Free Speech and a Wide Audience
Even as recently as 20 years ago, a person who wanted to tell the world his ideas or to publish a book would have to seek out a publisher who agreed with his ideas. People looking to find information about an unpopular topic or opinion had a similarly difficult experience.
Luckily that’s all changed now because of technological development. Today, anyone can start a website for only a few dollars a month, for blog or a small business site, you can use free domain service and even free templates, photos and just about anything else you want. People without the resources to start their own website can upload videos to YouTube or post messages on Facebook or Twitter.
The mere idea of being able to tell the world your opinions or thoughts is alien to older generations. However, because of technological developments as well as easier and cheaper access to technology, information can spread faster than we would have thought possible. Take the Arab Spring for example. In 2011, millions of people rose up against their government in movements coordinated through social media. Today, a dozen countries are permanently changed because their citizens had access to technology.
In rural sub-Saharan Africa and other hard-to-access parts of the world, technology is playing a major role in healthcare. Previously, people would be forced to travel for days to access medical care. Now, international agencies are funding initiatives to train more medical staff in rural areas and to connect rural patients with medical staff in urban centres. By being able to connect patients to medical staff via the internet or through mobile phones, patients are seen attended to quicker and are not forced to travel long distances for care.
Technology plays another role in health care. The ability to standardize medical records and share them between hospitals has intangible benefits for patients and medical staff. Widespread access to medical information also helps patients make the decision to visit a doctor if they are unsure whether their symptoms warrant a medical visit or not.
For women and men throughout the world, technological developments have opened up thousands of doors. Today, with open-access university courses, people from all over the world can learn about practically any topic for the cost of an internet connection.
Students looking for credit courses for a degree program can search online for hundreds of universities offering paid, online classes. Technology is so good that it can feel like the student is actually in the classroom – he can listen to the professor, ask questions, discuss issues with other students, take exams and submit work all through the internet. With technological developments being made every day, soon even practical coursework can be completed online from the comfort of students’ homes.
We don’t know what the future holds for us but chances are that technology will continue to progress to the point that it becomes all encompassing. Instead of seeking out technology, we will wake up and go to sleep without having to disconnect from a networked world. As more people get online, the value of accessible internet increases making connectivity to the whole world as natural as breathing.