An Observation of Medical Technology in the Modern World

Medicine in the modern era has been defined by incredible discoveries and miraculous cures. Vaccinations, antibiotics, as well as new diagnostic technologies now allow physicians and other medical professionals to eradicate disease more easily than any other time in human history. We have new understandings of how diseases and viruses operate, from the common cold through complex cancers. However, as with many other aspects of our modern culture, medicine is not perfect. In the United States especially, costs have skyrocketed while results lag behind. In 2013, we spent $2.9 trillion on healthcare alone, and these costs increase every year. (1) Before long, it is quite possible that our economy will be literally bankrupted as a result of this wild spending, and arguments abound as to what the best solution to this problem may be.

One major source of cost for healthcare is that of prescription drugs. Many people are shocked at the idea of spending thousands of dollars on a single pill, however this a very real aspect of modern healthcare. As a result, many are often quick to point to large pharmaceutical companies as major drivers for these ridiculous costs. This may be true to an extent, but not so much as people might assume. One of the major reasons that medicines often have such high costs is not their actual manufacturing, the the research and development (R and D) that must go into each medicine before it can be sold. This process often takes years, and after a drug has been successfully created it must still pass the regulations and testing of the FDA, which again can take years. Add all this time together and it is not unreasonable to expect a single drug to cost a company billions of dollars to create, while taking up to a decade to even go to market.

Hospitals are another often blamed culprit for the skyrocketing costs of healthcare. We have all heard the stories of people going to the emergency room for a look at an annoying cough, only to be slapped with a bill in the thousands of dollars. this aspect comes down mostly to an administrative issue, as well as a centralization problem in all hospitals. On top of this, the emergency room has in itself become known as an almost “ground zero” for the issues plaguing American healthcare. The ER is supposed to be used, clearly, as a place to go when you are faced with a true medical emergency. They are required and regulated to maintain enough professional personnel, diagnostic equipment, and supplies to handle any and every health problem which it may encounter. As a result, in my example of the thousand dollar bill for an annoying cough, the reason was not the visit itself but the resources needed to make that visit possible. Truly, however, all parts of the American hospital cost exponential amounts of money simply because are system lacks the organization to manage it as efficiently as we need it to.

Modern medicine is clearly costing far more than it should. Although ideas for solutions are prevalent everywhere, a true solution will very likely not arise within the next decade or more.



Class Archive

When looking at the archive that this class has created throughout the semester, what really strikes me is that even though we have all received the same assignments the whole year, the range of topics that were chosen for each assignment could not have been more different from each other. For example, for the final project alone, one person is talking about bees, another is talking about hip hop, and another is writing their paper on concussions. Those topics could not be more different, yet they still explore a common theme: technological progress and its impact on how we live our lives.

This common thread is what amazes me the most about our archive – it’s incredible how many different perspectives can be used to illuminate the issues we face today. One assignment that I appreciated reading different opinions on was the one that focused on the Digital Self. It was a relatively narrow topic, which is why the different perspectives really were useful for me – they forced me to reconsider my views, and expand them. Specifically within that topic, the focus on the readings from “alone together” that some people had was something that I enjoyed reading about, mostly because it’s a common feeling sometimes (the feeling of being so connected yet so disconnected at the same time), and it was nice to see that there are common experiences between all of us, even though we do all have our own opinions and perspectives and ideas. For example, the post about the differing perspectives between cultures in respect to connection really made me think. As an American, I have pretty much come to accept that my parents want me to be continually available. I don’t speak to them every day, or even every week sometimes, but if I can’t get in contact with them for some reason or another, they tend to get very worried. However, the connection between parent and child through different cultures can be very different. In the blog post that I’m referring to, the Chinese norm was addressed. It makes me wonder if I would be different in terms of my independence if my parents were less concerned about connection. As it is, I tend to do what I feel is best, regardless of their input, but I wonder what extremes my current independence (my mother might say strong-willed bullheadedness) could reach if I had even less obligation.

Another thing that I find interesting about our archive is not even the depth or breadth overall, it’s the depth that can be found with just one post. For example, the post on mummification that was read aloud gave us a huge amount of knowledge on a topic that most of us (I assume) are not familiar with – I know that I’m not. This access to new knowledge is something that I feel is prevalent throughout our archive. There are so many different topics and different passions that we have somehow come up with a fairly comprehensive look at technology throughout time and throughout society. Considering this, I kind of wonder what would happen if we had another semester to write even more.

Personal Reflection-Cinema

For my research paper I am looking into history of cinema. Ever since I was a kid I have watched many movies, and always had the curiosity of how they are made and how moving actors get captured on screen. This semester taking a class on art cinema has allowed me to get a better understanding of cinema and how far it has come since the late 1800s. From a simple photograph, to blurry movements, and finally to highly computerized content truly is astounding. Knowing the physiology of cinema from, editing, cinematography, aesthetics, and overall acting really is interesting. I believe this is one of many factors that has driven me to pursue this as a research topic. I remember when I was a kid, and used to watch a film I always thought the actors would stop what there doing and start acting just for me. It was a childish, yet naive understanding how films were created, and coming from that perspective, with the addition to watching movies all throughout my life has really compelled me to investigate this topic.

Analyzing my local identity, I have a lot of diversity. Seeing films in both Hollywood and Bollywood all throughout my life, has given me the opportunity to watch many films in both genres and to compare and contrast between them. Just like most people we all watch movies throughout our life, however we do not take into account of how it is made or how we have the technology to even create such films. Fortunately, for me I had the opportunity to take the history of art class designed for cinema, as mentioned earlier, and it has really opened my eyes and gave me a reason to strongly believe that cinema is a form of art akin to any painting or sculpture. I believe my personal identity has strongly influenced me to have this perspective on films, because I have been watching a diverse content of films from Hollywood to Bollywood. I believe it does depend on your identity and location because if you were more influenced in your childhood to watch films, you most likely take great pride in them to even consider them as a form of art. My art professor took an interest in cinema because her family used to sit down together and watch films all the time. Having that influence at a young age, and watching films throughout your life allows you to have a curiosity to better understand how what your watching works and how it has come about. Which is the main reason I want to pursue cinema as a research topic because I want to learn more of how it works and how it has evolved over the years.

As mentioned before, being exposed to a certain thing differs your perspective on that said thing opposed to something else. Cinema is a form of technology that really has taken great strides in the last 50 years, and being apart of a community that watches films, old or new, makes me want to analyze that technology even more. Which is why I believe personal experiences, identity, and location play a critical role when investigating an object or technology.

Personal Research Reflection

Throughout the years I have become very interested in learning about the environment and what I can contribute to help save it. I get very nervous when I hear about global warming and all of its negative effects, so I try to do what I can to contribute to saving the environment. However, it is also kind of hopeless because there are so many people in the world and so many that are not concerned or are too busy to worry about the environment, and I feel that the only way to save the environment is if everyone puts forth a little bit of effort. One of the biggest contributors to pollution is the use of fossil fuels. People rely on energy and electricity for their everyday lives, and I am the first person to admit that I could never live without it. As humans we have become so dependent on electricity that we do not know how to even go a couple of hours without it.

One very effective way to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use and still get the same amount of electricity we want is to use solar energy. By installing solar panels people are able to get as much energy as they want, almost completely powered by the natural sunlight. This approach is much better for the environment, and will even save people money on their electric bills. Solar panels are very expensive to install; however, over the years they will eventually pay their worth and the consumer can save thousands of dollars worth of electricity in the years to come.

I personally have never used anything that is solar powered, but I would definitely be interested in looking into it and trying it out. With the research I have done and everything that I have learned, I feel that it is definitely necessary to consider all possible solutions of saving the environment. There are plenty of ideas that people have come up with to help save the environment, but I feel like many of them are not as practical as using the sun, something that no one has to pay for, and people do not have to think about from day to day. I think a major problem with people trying to contribute to saving the environment is the time commitment. People are not willing to drive the extra time to drop off their recycling or take the time to separate their recycling from their trash. However, with solar energy all people would really have to worry about is installing the proper equipment and setting it all up, then they would be able to go about their everyday lives. As a contributor to all of the pollution in the air and the degrading of the earth, I feel guilty about using as much electricity as I do and being as wasteful as I am. I definitely try to help the environment by recycling as much as I can, and for now that is all that I am able to contribute. Eventually I hope to test out solar energy, and hopefully convert completely to using this energy that does not contribute to the pollution on earth.

Personal Research Reflection

For my research topic I am further investigating the corporatization of the farming industry.  In this blog post I will reflect on why I am investigating this topic and what roles my environment and identity as an individual has played in the motivation behind choosing this topic.  Living in modern day America and being a college student who uses the internet for almost everything plays a very key role my perception of my chosen topic.  Living in modern day America is such a big influence because America is the center of world where fast food is concerned.  Fast food was created here and fast food restaurants are more plentiful here than anywhere else in the world.  This means there is more fast food advertisements here than anywhere else as well.  Being so openly exposed to these advertisements has made me curious of what all really goes into the food that looks so good in those ads.  I started doing some research online about fast food and started asking myself question such as; where is all of the food these major fast food companies are producing coming from?  This curiosity is what initially caused me to stumble upon the problem arising in this nation, that our farming industry is being taken over by massive corporations.

I wanted to know more about what this corporatization meant for our society and what these farmers were doing differently now from what was being done in the past.  There are a few small farms in the city I’m from but I grew up in the suburbs part of town and really have never been that exposed to farming and don’t truly know what being a farmer entails.  This lack of knowledge where farming is concerned mixed with the constant exposure to fast food advertisements created a separation between my food and its origin.  Myself along with the majority of Americans don’t stop and think about where the food they are eating is really coming from and what all has to happen to the food to get it in the condition it is on your plate.

On another note I would like to reflect on my past experience with this topic which also ties into why I am motivated to investigate this topic even further.  Growing up I was a rather picky eater and both my parents worked full time jobs and as a result I ate fast food meals and junky snacks rather often.  These bad eating habits carried on into my life even when I was making my own food choices.  My last year of high school I reached a point where I was very over weight and had enough and started to make some lifestyle changes.  I started working out and eventually started to drastically change my diet, eating healthy and exercising has become a passion of mine over time and I am constantly doing research to find out more information on fitness, eating healthy, and just food in general.  Throughout this research I have watched many documentaries on the subject including Food Inc. which I watched again for this class.  Food Inc. and other documentaries such as Hungry for Change have changed my perspective of eating healthy and why more people aren’t striving to do so.  I realized the underlying cause for this issue is the fact that the major corporations that are vastly in control of the food supply in this country are only worried about making a quick profit off of cheap, highly processed foods and are not worried one little bit about the health of the people consuming these foods.  In conclusion, the main reason for me choosing this topic is because I have been personally affected by the consequences of this issue.