Thursday, September 22, 2011

Need or Luxury

I watched Contagion a few days ago. It’s a pretty good movie, mostly, because of how realistic it could be at times. In fact, it was so hauntingly real, I got really paranoid halfway through the film and felt like I was getting sick myself. Well, to my credit, it was really cold in the theater but, still, it was really just a psycho-somatic thing. One thing that struck me in the movie was the comparison made of the virus that was going around in the movie (they called it MEV-1) with that of the Spanish flu pandemic in the early decades of the 1900s (I wanted to indicate which century the 1900s was exactly but I’ve never really been able to figure that out; I’ll take a guess and say that the 1900s is the twentieth century). It made me realize that, no matter how much deadlier MEV-1 is if compared in absolute terms with the Spanish flu, the Spanish flu was just as lethal to human kind, considering the means that were available for dealing with the virus at that time. We are able to deal with deadlier viruses, at present, only because we have developed better technology. In fact, for a time in the movie, it seemed as if, even with all the advanced technology in the world, they wouldn’t be able to control the pandemic. But, of course, through the sacrifices of honorable people (it’s always easier to be an honorable person when you’re just an actor portraying a role in a movie) and through the employment of advanced technology (including ICT, as it allowed for faster communication of updates all around the world), the virus was conquered.

All this, in turn, made me think about whether or not developments in information communications technology are merely just luxuries? Or are they actually needed? I had always seemed to take for granted that they were merely luxuries. Well, I’ll admit that I always say I can’t live without the internet but it’s really an exaggerated opinion. I mean, I definitely would rather not live without the internet, but I’ve never really put it up there on the same importance as food, for example. At the back of my mind, I’d always believed that most ICT are luxuries we can live without, if push really comes to shove. We just can’t imagine it ‘cause we’ve been so used to the convenience it brings.

But the circumstances in the movie made me see things in a different light. Again, in the movie (which is definitely a very reliable source), the virus would never have been overcome if we didn’t have the technology to deal with it, including ICT. Which, thus, makes me think that, maybe, we really do need these developments in ICT. Nature seems to tell us that we need it. Maybe these developments in ICT are really part of a necessary evolution of mankind in order to deal with the more complex problems that nature is throwing at us. Maybe we just don’t see it this way because the driving force behind these developments are mostly business considerations, rather than considerations of need. But, no matter what the reason is, it would not take away the need for it. As an analogy, just because drug manufacturers create drugs primarily to earn profits does not mean that the medicines developed are not needed.

I have yet to make a conclusion, personally, about this. But, at the very least, I won’t view ICT as a mere luxury anymore.

Aldous Benjamin Camiso, Blog Entry #14.

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