‘Science creates problems even as it creates solutions.’ What do you think?

The benefits of science are evident in almost every aspect of life; be it a washing machine that eases the burden of a tedious chore, or a vaccine that saves millions of lives. It is evident that science has the capacity to solve many of humanity’s problems but at the same time, does it bring problems also?

The internet and the smartphone have revolutionized the way we communicate with one another, search for information, and even buy things. Everyone who owns a smartphone is one message or phone call away from everyone else who also owns a smartphone. One can communicate with another person who is halfway across the globe for free now. Any information that you want in this universe is readily available when you google it. Your smartphone can function as a lot of things, including a calculator, a flashlight, a scanner, and a camera. There is an app nowadays for anything under the sun.

Yet, the internet and the smartphone do bring problems of their own for humankind. Youngsters nowadays are so distracted by online gaming, internet browsing, YouTube watching, and chatting on their phones, that almost every aspect of their lives is disrupted. Sleep patterns are disturbed and academic performance declines. Besides, Cyberbullying and online harassment are on the increase nowadays. It is very easy to malign a person or groups of people by spreading fake information about them. Even photos and videos can be altered to convey false information. So the reliability of information in modern society is questionable.

Addiction to social media is another problem that technological advancement has resulted in. Social media addiction may lead to depression and other psychological issues. Youngsters especially are vulnerable as they sometimes acquire a negative body image under the influence of social media. When all you see is how everyone else is enjoying their lives and posting fun photos on Instagram, you get depressed about your own very ordinary life.

With the advancements in science and technology, the world is one global village. However, ironically, people are lonelier than ever. Face-to-face communication with a human touch is becoming non-existent. Even within such close-knit groups as a family, it is not uncommon to see each individual closeted in their own room scrolling away on social media rather than communicating with each other.

It is not just social media or the internet or the smartphone that has proven to be a double-edged sword. Weapons of ever-increasing destructive power which results in devastation on an unprecedented scale during any unrest have been developed by science. The possible use of nuclear weapons for warfare is a nightmare that is hanging above our civilization like the sword of Democles. Nuclear weapons have been acquired by quite a few countries. Unless our society is mature enough not to resort to wars to solve our problems, these dangerous weapons can annihilate human lives as we know it.

Science has not been kind to the environment either. While industrialization has brought prosperity, it has also brought issues such as climate change and pollution. Burning fossil fuels in vehicles contributes to the greenhouse effect, global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer. The invention of plastic, a material that has innumerable benefits for mankind, has also resulted in severe pollution of the environment as it takes a very long time to decompose. The cutting down of trees to make room for factories has long-term negative effects on the environment and on the animals that live there.

It is true that science has brought about a higher standard of living than in previous centuries. Life expectancy has increased, and we get excellent medical care. However, such benefits are expensive, and so are available only to the economically advanced segments of society. Besides, lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and fatty liver are increasing due to the consumption of processed foods and lack of exercise.

If we look at the Information and Communication Technology sector, in recent years, cyber security issues have become increasingly prevalent. Data is arguably the most valuable commodity for any organization or company, and data breaches are becoming common now. We see nefarious activity such as malware on the rise as any vulnerability is exploited by attackers. This is not just a business concern. Even Governments and other public bodies are not safe. Dissenters make use of fake content and misinformation to fight their cause and mislead the general public and thus try to subvert the system.

In short, science is a mixed bag, and it is how we make use of it that will prove it to be beneficial or harmful.

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