Price of Technological Progress
The crazy functioning of robots in the “techno-house” after a nuclear bombing, the required wearing of handicaps to create equality among people, and a police car chasing those who are not inside their home watching television are all examples of how humans have moved forward technologically, but have not made responsible decisions with their knowledge.
Two writers, Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., who were way ahead of their time give us a frightening peek into the future where technology eventually overcomes humanity. They draw our attention to what the consequences might be of the technological progress in the future. In these three short stories people had highly advanced technology, but they couldn’t use it for the benefit of mankind. Ray Bradbury in the short story “There Will Come Soft Rains” demonstrates the only one house standing after a nuclear explosion. The shadowlike images of the inhabitants in the exterior of the house indicate that they didn’t survive the bombing. Their modern house, however, continues to function as if nothing happened. Life outside is destroyed, yet the “techno-home” takes no notice of it and proceeds with making toasts for breakfast and announcing the time. Even though the up-to-date house provided high protection to its inhabitants, it couldn’t save their lives on the day of the disaster.
In the story “Harrison Bergeron” writer Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. indicates how government uses technology to control the population. People are given handicaps so no one is any stronger, smarter, prettier than anybody else. Being average is being perfect and everyone strives to reach this perfection. People are satisfied with the government because they don’t want to go back to the “dark ages” with everyone competing against everyone else. And if someone yet tries to revolt, he will be likely shot by the Handicapper General’s ten-gauge shotgun.
The author suggests that man’s abilities are restricted and he is powerless in the hands of this kind of controlling government. Through the story “The Pedestrian” Ray Bradbury is making a statement on the effects of the invention of television. People don’t go out for walks at night anymore, they rather stay inside and watch their “viewing screen”. To do anything else is considered to be unusual and regressive. There is no need for people to leave their comfy sofas and go outside to the dark when they can be inside watching their favorite shows. If you are walking outside the streets there is a big chance that you will be stopped by a mechanical police car and if you don’t give him a reasonable explanation it will probably give you a ride to the nearby “Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies”.
Even if we now think about television as a positive invention and important information source which it is, in the future it can turn out to be a harmful thing that keeps people locked inside their houses for a big part of their life not even noticing it. Using these short stories the authors are trying to deliver us an important message that even though humans made progress in technology, they didn’t make the best decisions with their knowledge. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. presents the effects of technology in the hands of the controlling government. Ray Bradbury indicates that people are becoming more and more technophiles which can later cause irreversible results. We should think about how will technology influence our society in the future if we are not going to change our way of thinking. He warns us humans, that if we continue on like this we can end up like those people who were killed by the nuclear bomb or the ones locked inside their houses watching television. Day by day we are getting closer to those people not even realizing it.
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Price of Technological Progress
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