Aug 15th 2017

Has tech gone too far?

I am a fan of technology; after all, I work in the tech PR industry and I am constantly surrounded by gadget this and software that. I’m constantly trying to convince my grandparents of the latest tech updates and I watch – completely mesmerised – as it transforms the world in which we live. Every year we witness new inventions, both on a large scale in the business world, right down to individual handheld gadgets, and look on as humanity upgrades itself one byte at a time.

However, I can’t help asking myself whether technology has gone too far in pervading every aspect of society and life. I explored this very question earlier in the year via the form of poetry, as I posited what will happen when my co-workers are replaced by robots. But what really made me recently stop and consider things a bit more clearly was an article I read this summer about the unveiling of a new equine monorail…

Ponder that thought for a moment. You didn’t mishear me. Equine monorail. You know, those transport systems they have at theme parks like Disneyland. But for horses…

The monorail, set to ‘revolutionise’ the training of racehorses, is a kilometre-and-a-half-long system, which has cost over £40 million to develop and has ‘cabins’ with space for up to a dozen horses. The wallet behind its invention belongs to Turkish industrialist Mehmet Kurt, leading to the monorail’s name, ‘Kurtsystem’.

Why would Kurt every consider ploughing eye watering amounts of money into a machine like this, I hear you ask? It’s because human error in training is decidedly the cause of too many injuries to racehorses each year. Anybody in the business of rearing a racehorse will be able to tell you how delicate these creatures are. Kurt believes that his Kurtsystem will enhance the physical development of young horses in the early stages of the training process, as well as have a role in the rehabilitation of injured horses.

Whilst I agree that the wellbeing of racehorses is absolutely paramount in the racing industry, I can’t quite get my head around how an automated machine can be better for them than a jockey – when ultimately it is the jockey who will race them.

This is just one example of how technology encroaches into all aspects of work and life. It’s mindboggling. Technological applications and their benefits for animals will always be a topic for debate, because animals are not able to voice their opinions about technology interference in their lives. Humans make the choice to buy gadgets; that’s the exciting part of the world we live in. What’s the last tech gizmo you absolutely hungered for and subsequently bought? Now imagine someone else making that decision for you, and you have no say what and how that technology will be used. That’s the case for animals.

The jury is still out for me on the Kurtsystem. I can’t deny that technology is truly incredible and can achieve things greater than humanly possible. Nor can I deny that Kurt is most likely to have his racehorses’ best interests at heart. However, every so often, I think we should stop and take stock of things that work well without tech intervention. Like face to face conversations, human interaction with animals, and admiration of Mother Nature’s creations. Those are things that money just can’t buy.