Why should young people be interested in technology and how can it benefit society?
The evolution of technology can positively enhance and benefit the youth of the future. Young people should be interested in technology because it can shape their future and environment. Technology can contribute to solving environmental sustainability and economic issues impacting young people, and the society they live in. In addition to this, technology can change future lives for better, or for worse.
First, technological advancements may solve deteriorating issues regarding environmental sustainability. Renewable eco-friendly technological developments, such as solar energy, hydroelectric energy, and vehicle electrification, have helped resolve sustainability issues with minimal pollution. According to the Congressional Research Service, transportation currently contributes to 36% of all CO2 emissions. However, electrification projections estimate that electric vehicles will reduce the total emissions from cars and vans from 64-93% by 2050. Decreasing today’s carbon footprint will help preserve the environment for future generations.
Next, technology will fuel job and wealth creation for both young people and society overall. People in STEM-related jobs (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are shown to earn higher wages due to their high productivity and contribution to innovation. The U.S. Department of Commerce states that people with STEM jobs earn 29-39% more per hour. In addition, there is a higher demand for people with STEM backgrounds, resulting in higher employment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment is projected to grow by 7.4% from 2016-2026, relative to the 13.7% estimated growth for STEM jobs. Due to the role that technology plays in everyday life, jobs associated with technology have a higher demand and wages because of the importance of the jobs.
Lastly, the decisions that young people make with artificial intelligence (AI) can determine the path of human evolution. AI has incredible potential, but if put into the wrong hands, can threaten the safety of many. AI hasn’t fully developed working cognitive and ethical skills, and if applied to autonomous weapons with the single command to inflict damage, it can pose global scale risks. The manipulation of target marketing in social media by artificial intelligence is another threat that AI poses. The 2016 U.S. presidential election was possibly an example of the power of AI and its control with social manipulation. In comparison, artificial intelligence also has the power to enhance life. Artificial intelligence in automation, for example, can improve efficiency and productivity, which can help manufacturing and production. In another situation, the successful integration of AI with humans could result in enhanced cognitive and problem-solving skills. As Bill Gates said, artificial intelligence should be watched closely, but the advantages of artificial intelligence can outweigh the disadvantages and threats if done so properly. The young people of the future have this weight on their shoulders; will they contribute to a society with further integrated technology, or will they watch society turn into a dystopia?
Technology has the power to change the lives of youth, and the state of the environment. The ending results of this change, however, are predominantly dependent on the young people of today.
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U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the Electricity Sector: Factors, Trends, and Projections. Congressional Research Service, 7 Jan. 2019, fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45453.pdf.
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