Too much time, money, and energy are spent developing new and more elaborate technology. Society should instead focus on maximizing the use of existing technology for the immediate benefit of its citizens.
Alright, 45 minutes...go!
The first thing that comes to mind in reading the above quotation is that in most cases, "society" neither focuses on developing new technologies nor on maximizing the use of existing ones. Outside of the realm of government directed research, technologies are developed and perfected by enterprising individuals acting on their own volition, either for personal gain or fulfillment or for monetary profit. Where personal desire is involved, it would seem odd for one to assert that these individuals ought to want different things; their personal choices are their own, and a blanket statement like the one offered in the prompt for this essay seems to ignore the fact that people may have very good reasons for wanting to develop new technologies. Where technologies are developed for profit, the prompt again seems to be making a normative claim about people's wants: new technologies are profitable because they allow for the production of new goods and services which consumers desire. To suggest that there is a problem with this state of affairs seems to imply that consumers ought not to desire the kinds of things that new technologies can offer, without demonstrating any understanding of why consumers desire these things.
The reality is that new technologies enable us to live our lives in fundamentally different ways, allowing us to avoid some of the hardships of the past and to have a broad range of experiences unknown to older generations. The internal combustion engine, the airplane, the refrigerator, the x-ray machine, the satellite, and the computer have made it possible to live the way we do, and as technology further advances, new ways of life will be possible that may be unimaginable to us today. In demanding the products of innovation, consumers and self-motivated inventors are expressing their view that the status quo is not entirely satisfactory -- that there are improvements to be had, and that these improvements can come in the form of new technologies.
It must be noted that consumers do not necessarily demand entirely new products to the exclusion of improved existing products. Nor do producers and innovators only focus on developing "new and more elaborate technology." Where improvements on existing products are economical and competitive with the development of new products, we might expect to see that existing technologies would continue to flourish alongside new ones, and indeed they do. In fact, the influence of brand recognition and customer loyalty might result in older technologies sticking around longer than their merits alone would dictate. But as new technologies come to provide the consumers of those technologies with better options, we should both expect and embrace the demise of the older technologies they replace.
As we have seen, the development of new technologies is often undertaken by individuals who are motivated by their own desires or the desires of consumers, and these desires are not generally unreasonable, but rather reflect the fact that our lives are not perfect and can often be improved by more advanced technologies. To focus on the improvement of existing technologies rather than on the development of new ones, then, would seem to be quite dubiously beneficial for the very citizens whom the suggestion is ostensibly meant to help. It seems fair to say that insofar as citizens' preferences are a decently effective proxy for what would benefit them, allowing their demands to dictate the allocation of resources for development would likely benefit them more than would an externally imposed emphasis on existing technologies.
One qualification must be made to this statement with regard to development undertaken by government-funded entities. In many of these situations, innovators are provided with resources which do not reflect the demands of consumers for the products they create, since their funding is sometimes isolated from market processes. Accordingly, it is possible that many of these programs are making use of resources which have been misallocated towards inferior uses by government decree. Insofar as there are programs of this description which focus on the development of new technologies, it might be coherent to speak of them as spending "too much time, money, and energy" on "developing new and more elaborate technology." But because these types of programs certainly do not represent the norm for product development, because the existence of some of these programs would not justify the blanket statement offered in the prompt, and because we have good reason for believing that much of the focus on developing new technology is perfectly justifiable, it seems reasonable to reject the statement issued in the prompt.