If you ask someone what the greatest technological breakthrough of the twentieth century was, you are sure to get mixed responses. Some may say the television, others will say modern medicine, and young people will almost certainly say the internet. Instead of trying to list the greatest technological breakthroughs and assign an arbitrary “rating,” a more effective way to look at the impacts of technology would be to examine the landscape of the time. A major powerhouse that pushed the boundaries during the early 20th century—especially during the 1920s—was the United States. After coming out of World War I victorious and with relatively little losses, The United States’ post-war economy was the epitome of consumerism. As the cost of production continued to drop, items once thought of as a luxury, such as vehicles, became within the price range of everyday consumers. The trend began when Henry Ford created the assembly line and continued to pick up momentum as the century progressed. This eventually led to widespread adoption of other goods once considered luxury, such as radios, telephones, and refrigerators. As more money was poured into these emerging fields, the infrastructure behind...
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...d by scientific discoveries, you can see that science and technology can act as a tool to further our society while also creating the possibility of one day bringing it to its knees. A well supported outlook towards the future of technology would be “cautiously optimistic.” Nuclear fission is one example of this. While is did further our understanding of atomic theory and resulted in a solution to many energy woes, it also caused the tragedies of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Chernobyl. Looking towards the 21st century, artificial intelligence is shaping up to be another highly controversial piece of technology that we are only beginning to understand. As George Santayana once said, “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” We can only hope that the world has learned an important lesson from these tragedies: never underestimate the power of knowledge.
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