Topic 19: Earlier technological development brought more changes to the life of ordinary people than recent technological development do. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Undoubtedly, people are now enjoying one of the greatest technological boom times in human history. Although there is a consensus that social changes coincide normally with technological advances, it is a contentious issue whether the earlier technology (e.g., machines, cars, airplanes) impacts on people's lives to a larger extent than does the recent technology (e.g., Internet, computers). In my opinion, the recent improvements in technology have more far-reaching consequences.
While the invention of automobiles was a landmark in the technological evolution ofhumankind, the widespread use of computers and telecommunications technology has dramatically reshapedthe nature of the society. One might have benefited a lot from one's improved ability to move rapidly from one place to another because of the availability of automobiles, yet this benefit has been discountedbecause of the advent of the Internet. With Internet access, the world has become accessible to people and one can perform many tasks at home (e.g., grocery shopping) and let their fingers do the walking.
Lifestyles are changed by recent technologies in equal measure. Before computers and the Internet were created, most working people struggled with a lack of leisure time and the balance between family life and work life. They were fully occupied by employment and various chores, such as shopping. With Internet, they are now able to spend much less time on those routine, dullactivities and lead active leisure lives.
Modern technologies also account for the evolution of people's perception of society. People tend to develop, modify and repurpose technology for their own use. Interdependent, previously a core virtue of many societies, is now undermined. Cell phones allow people to insulate their private interactions from the culture around them and to create their own micro-cultures. The mobility given by modern transport meanwhile, allures them to leave their place of birth and work and live elsewhere. Cultural norms are subject to modification and the communallifestyle is going out of fashion.
In conclusion, whether one likes it or not, technology will continue to evolve, with the resulting changes impacting the lifestyles and cultural norms continuously. While the earlier technology had enhanced the quality of life and generated revenue for people, the recent technology has made them lead a different lifestyle from previous generations.
1. landmark = turning point = watershed event
2. humankind = mankind
3. reshape = reform = restructure = remodel
4. discount = impair
5. dull = tedious = monotonous = dreary
6. norm = custom = normal ways of behaving
7. communal = collective
Topic 20: It is said that the fast pace of our everyday life, as a direct result of the rapid development of telecommunications technology and travel industry, has negative effects on individuals, nations and the globe. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Not surprisingly, many aspects of people's daily lives have undergone considerable changes because of the recent development in technology. It is a particular concern that the pace of everyday life is becoming faster, resulting from the development in cars, air travel, telecommunications technology and the Internet. As well as benefits, this trend is to bring problems.
On the positive side, the fast rhythm of life requires people to enhance efficiency when working and then allows them to enjoy longer leisure time. With the advance in telecommunications, people can make inquires by phone, instead of travelling long distances. Internet access makes it possible for one to perform various tasks without leaving their offices. Even though people have to travel every now and then for meeting business partners, visiting clients in other cities or other purposes, modern transport networks reduce the amount of time they spend on commutes.
The acceleration of the pace of life also implies the expansion of people's social circle. In the past, social relationships were limited by physical factors such as geographical distance and low mobility, but nowadays, one can travel further and gel acquainted with more people with those technological advances, such as the railroad, the automobile and the telephone. For instance, the rapidpenetrationof telecommunications technology' has made the mobile phone a key social tool and people rely on their mobile phone address book to keep in touch with their friends.
On the negative side, the fast-paced lifestyle is responsible for the upsurge in lifestyle-related problems. Jobs become demanding and require workers' full commitment, resulting in their depression and pressure. Underneath the facadeof continued contractionof official working hours, employees are actually working longer, primarily because fax, e-mail or other communication devices have made them accessible to their supervisors, colleagues and customers after work. They have to respond instantly to voice and email messages from others. Private life has to be sacrificed.
According to the facts outlined above, the doubts about the negative effects of the acceleration of pace of life are not well-grounded. People now enjoy greater well-being, which is reflected in more quality family time, less travel-related stress and close contact with friends and family members. However, they might have to accept frequent intrusionsas a by-productof convenient communication.
1. penetration = invasion = permeating
2. facade = disguise = cover-up
3. contraction = reduction
4. intrusion = interruption
5. by-product = unwanted product = anything produced in the course of making another thing
Topic 21: Nowadays people can carry out tasks such as shopping and banking even business transactions without meeting each other face to face. What are the effects on individuals and the society?
With the wide use of the Internet, the way people conduct business and live their lives has vastly changed. Many businesses have websites that allow people to conduct business, execute deals and finish transactions online, as analternativeto a lengthy commute. Although people are thus free from the constraints of geography and time, there are some consequences of this trend that demand attention.
Supposedly, with Internet access, people are able to perform transactions and to do shopping without leaving home, but meanwhile they have to pay a heavy price for it. One of the most negative aspects is, for instance, that it alters their social behaviours and habits. For many people, to spend part of the day on the Internet is quite normal. It can be expected that being addicted to Internet use, most of home telecommutersor Internet users will become socially isolated. Poor social lifeand feelings of loneliness are those problems that are very often found among heavy users.
It is also likely that people have become increasingly accustomed to living in a world that appreciates convenience and inactivityand they do not want to evade those maxims. It gives explanation of why the sedentary lifestyle is now prevailing and why people spend little time on leisure or recreational activities. Time has been spent in front of the computer or Internet. The net result is that they suffer serious loss of vision, back pain and obesity. It is true that many people finally end up with struggling with deteriorating health.
Despite the negative effects, the Internet has its positive implications to the well-being of society. Online shoppers are able to seek out the lowest prices for items or services. Manufacturers, therefore, have to improve product quality and lower price levels in an effort to win the favour of consumers and secure a stable market share. Telecommuting-working at home using a computer is a solution to traffic congestion, the urban air pollution and petrol use.
As outlined above, people's growing obsession with Internet use, such as online shopping or banking, has both immediate and long-term impacts on health, social involvement, lifestyles and emotional well-being. Although it is of great value from a net surfer's perspective, people should step up efforts to minimise the negative effects.
1. alternative= replacement = substitute
2. supposedly = theoretically = purportedly
3. price = penalty
4. telecommuter = teleworker
5. social life = spending time with friends and other people
Topic 22: Many people are optimistic about the 21st century and expect scientists to make positive changes to the world. To what extent do you agree or disagree with their optimism? What changes would you like to see in the new century?
As the 21st century continues to unfold, many technologies have arisen, most of which were previously out of the reach of people's comprehension. While some people are contentwith the current standard of living and tend to owe it to technical advances, an opposing point of view is that not all these changes to lives are positive. I am of the opinion that there is still room for improvement and many problems remain unsolved.
The continued improvement in technology undoubtedly accelerates industrialisation but meanwhile leads to the deteriorationof the natural environment. Accompanied by technological development, many problems, such as over-exploitation of natural resources, intense use ofartificialfertilisers, reliance on automobiles and deforestation, have arisen and intensified. Even worse, little progress has been made toward addressing these problems, possibly because implementing environmentally friendly policies will inevitably impede the development of energy-intensive industries. That is why the use of petrol continues to climb, despite the fact that many countries pledge to curb petrol use and discover or invent alternative resources.
Another problem is that many technologies have put people at great risks and highlighted the need for innovation. For example, the spread of the Internet is directly responsible for people's sedentary lifestyle and many health problems, such as obesity. The rise of the fast food industry, owing mainly to the development in the food processing technology, is linked to diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Many stress-related diseases are attributed to the increasingly fierce competition in society, a result of technological development. Fears of job loss have become one of the most common sources of social anxiety in these years, as computerisation has undermined the traditional position of labour by eliminating jobs. All these problems demand quick solutions.
Some other problems are associated with technology as well, although the actual impacts remain unforeseen. For example, the future of genetic engineering, a radical new technology intending to introduce genetic changes to a species, either animals or plants, and to increase crop yield, is dim. To date there is no compelling evidence to show that GE food has a good track recordfor human safety, especially when it has been found related to thousands of poisoning cases.
Overall, whether technology is a blessing to people remains yet to be seen, so does what the 21st century can bring to them. It seems to be a fact that whenever a new technology arises, there must be some problems that follow. When people are impressed by the benefits brought by a new technology, it is important to evaluate its negative impacts and takeprecautionsin advance.
1. unfold = display = disclose = clarify = become known = reveal