Technology can support our health, wellbeing, happiness and sense of connection. However, it is a double edged sword. It can also disconnect us and reduce our health with screen time over 2 hours and the associated sedentary behaviours. We need to decide which side of the sword we use.
ALL TECHNOLOGY IS A PRODUCT OF THE NATURAL WORLD
The long-running TV show Star Trek has a knack for predicting the future of technology. Just some of the program’s pioneering inventions include tablet computers, the communicator (enter the mobile phone), voice interface computers (hello Siri!) as well as cloaking devices. Of all the space-age gadgets used in the plot, there is one that, if replicated in reality, would far surpass any medical tool we have imagined so far. These galactic doctors used the Tricorder; a handheld device they simply pointed at the patient, human or otherwise, to instantly diagnose any galactic disorder or dysfunction!
Technology has been trying to catch up to the imaginings of Star Trek for decades but it’s only in recent times that the dream of such a device has seemed possible. Its creation could help address numerous medical challenges faced today by millions; wait times, doctor expenses, uncertainty and even remote locations. Running between 2011 and 2017, the chipmaker Qualcomm sponsored the Tricorder X Prize, generating global interest and competition in developing groundbreaking medical hardware around the Tricorder concept. The call was to invent a machine that could diagnose a set list of 13 medical conditions as well as monitor five vital signs.
The strongest performing device in the competition, designed by Basil Leaf Technologies was called DxterTM, a small yet sophisticated diagnostic engine for conditions such as; diabetes, atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, urinary tract infection, sleep apnea, leukocytosis, pertussis, stroke, tuberculosis, and pneumonia.1 The competition was trailblazing and DxterTM was just the beginning as advancements and testing continues for all companies now pioneering the forefront of this incredible medical technology that one day will hit the market and change the lives of millions.
Technology is the application of knowledge to serve a practical purpose.
The human factor in helping to heal will never be replaced, nor should be, however if we consider the above definition, technology has the potential to enable and enhance human health and connection on a global scale. Imagine the influence digital technology could have on underdeveloped regions where medical practitioners are often scarce. It should not substitute for medical supervision, but when there is none, mobile devices designed to measure a person’s vital signs could prove life-saving. Technology could also manifest the full potential of the digital health age: allowing the patient’s home environment, wherever it may be, to be the point-of-care. Thus combining the benefits of human and nature centric technology.
The 12 Medicines began with Nature as Medicine and it is fitting that we finish with Technology as Medicine, because as the opening sentence suggests, Technology is Nature, there is no separation. This is no doubt surprising to many who might consider technology as a heartless army of sterile robots however technology is not the bad guy, far from it, it is inherently part of human nature.
We are an organic species that has learnt to manipulate inorganic elements into tools and technology, which has enabled and empowered our long-term survival and success; technology has been our evolutionary friend in fact. For thousands of years, medicines and treatment principles have depended on the technology at hand; such as scalpels, probes and materia medica. Today, this has evolved into hospitals that rely on complex, computerized machines to either analyze the body or support its function.
In this chapter, we explore the upside and dark side of Technology as Medicine. I will share how it can be effectively utilized towards longevity and more abundance of health, energy, time and even resources. We just need to understand how best to apply our knowledge. The challenge is that technology, like many mind altering substances such as alcohol or synthetic drugs, is often used to numb our mind and escape our reality.
The 12 Medicines aim to recreate a natural reality that you love and never want to escape from. Modern technology allows you to do this more than ever, supporting your natural mechanisms towards self-care and freeing your time and location to do what you love, to live your purpose and ideal lifestyle at the same time.
DEFINE TECHNOLOGY AS MEDICINE
Technology, like our human vessel, finds its origin in nature. Philosopher and poet, Blaire Ostler contends that technology is an essential and natural part of human evolution.2 It can be seen all around us being applied in nature. “The use of technology is a pattern well established in the natural world,” Ostler explains, “for example, when a spider spins a web she is using the natural elements of her environment and body to produce a piece of technology to serve the practical purpose of catching her food. The web functions as a net, a common technology also used by humans to capture food.”3
Imagine back when Early Man first used sticks and primitive stone implements to hunt and build basic dwellings, he was the earliest “technologist” using nature and his increasing cognition to gain his desires.4 This adaption of the natural elements around us has expanded into the rapid-fire developments we see in modern times, however the cause of our adaptations hasn’t changed! Our desires and aims motivate our actions each day, just as we invent increasingly sophisticated levels of “natural” technology to fulfill them.
Therefore there is no need to look for a moral distinction between what is technology and what is nature, because just as Ostler asserts, technology is nature.5 Even when we are surpassing the boundaries of our known limits, we are effectively doing what comes naturally!
The same natural elements used to make your human vessel and the ones that keep nourishing it over your lifespan, are the same base elements used to create the book or device that you are reading, the smartphone in your pocket, the Wi-Fi and internet that enables you to connect with social media platforms and the technology that operates your businesses.
Technology has enabled these practical purposes for us, empowering us in this reality. Technology is not meant to take us away from reality or to replace nature or human connection. It shouldn’t be designed that way. As discussed previously, our environments, our cultures and the communities that support us govern the reality we create in our mind. Together these factors guide our willpower, our thoughts and importantly our actions.
The danger emerges when the principles that drive our environments, cultures and communities move our actions away from nature and collectively become stronger than our convictions, subverting our realities into false digital lives. Technology can empower the human experience but should never replace it. We wield its control; it should not control us.
You could say nature and technology are the same medicine, just in a different configuration. The distinction to be aware of is that technology is a natural extension of nature, due to human manipulation of those basic tools we used as cave dwellers right through to spaceships and beyond in the modern era.
The dual nature of technology challenges us to create technology from nature, whilst remaining connected to it. Technology’s use must promote harmony and interconnectedness of all the systems; healthy circular economies and the human and earth biomes inclusively. In the same way that astronaut Piers Sellers on his deathbed, utilized technology to create a system to monitor climate change. A living legacy that will help future generations inform their decisions on this beautiful planet.
CALL TO ACTION
Over 2 hours spent on technology each day leads to increased mental health issues, disconnection and even apathy. An ability to connect with ourselves, nature, animals and the real world.
- Limit social media use to 30 minutes a day.
- Have a digital detox weekend every couple of months.
- The recommended amount of screen time depends on a child’s age. Children under 2 years should not have any screen time and those under 5 years should have less than two hours a day.
This is directly referenced from the amazon best-selling SelfCare Book "Lifestyle Medicine For the People" by Rory Callaghan. If you would like to read more content like this. Grab the free online chapters of the book or a hard copy.
We have done our best to reference everyone’s expert opinions, peer-reviewed science, and original thoughts, all references available here and referenced in the text.
We also understand that most thoughts are not our own and there is a collective unconsciousness, unconsciousness, and universal mind stream of energy that is always at work. How are references are sorted and filtered is here.