Technological Advancement: Is a good or bad thing to our society “There will come a time when it isnt Theyre spying on me through my phone anymore.Eventually, it will be My phone is spying on me”
"Just because something doesnt do what you planned it to do doesnt mean its useless."
Thomas Alva Edison
The advent of internet has brought about significant transformations in the field of information and communication technologies, thus drastically changing the pace and scope of societies at large. People today are highly dependent on various forms of technological tools and gadgets in their day to day activities. The impact of technology can be witnessed in almost every sphere of the society be it political, social, or commercial.
These transformational effects have only grown by leaps and bounds during the decade, courtesy of innovations in the field of technology, leading to emergence of new industries – thus ushering a new era populated by cyber citizens. The greatest impact of technology can be experienced in the way we communicate. The rise of social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and video blogging sites such as YouTube etc., has made it possible for merging of cultures beyond people from across various continents and enabled a valuable and meaningful exchange of information. It has played a key role in promoting cultural tolerance and greater political participation, empowering the citizens in the process.
However despite the varied benefits offered by the information, entertainment and communication technologies, the perils of excessive dependence on such technologies are manifold. One of the greatest challenges faced by users in the digital world includes privacy issues and identity theft. Violation of privacy has been one of the most significant enduring social issues associated with digital and electronic information technologies, globally. The article ‘Is online social club, sharing is the point until it goes too far the authors have highlighted the downside of social networking sites, mostly surrounding privacy issues, mirroring the sentiments of millions of people of this virtual lounge, who feel threatened and vulnerable due to constant threats of being stalked and misuse of their private information (The Washington Post).
The key goal of social networking sites is to enable sharing of information and free and faster exchange of information across countries. The paradox however lies in the fact that contrary to the intended benefits of the social media there are increasing reports stating the contrary. The article “Does the Internet make as lonely?” discusses the potential effects of internet and technology on the society and the manner in which it has managed to alienate people. Social scientists have indicated a drastic rise in reports stating that as more and more people are logging online the communication between family members is drastically reduced leading to increased feelings of loneliness and depression (Frazen 428).
The paradox of social networking sites is further highlighted in the article "Isolated by the internet" where the author, Clifford Stoll discusses the contribution and significance of online groups and communities for obscure medical illnesses helping the patients in sharing their concerns and recommending solutions on one hand (392) and on the other hand adversely affects the communication skills and patterns of individuals (396).
The potential impact of technology has led to the development and innovation across various disciplines including information systems, human-computer interaction, communication studies, and the likes. Furthermore it has also been widely established through research that Information and Communication Technologies, have contributed immensely towards the economic growth of nations, by enhancing productivity and blurring the geographic boundaries between nations.
Information technologies have benefited the society by enabling the development of virtual organizations thus eliminating the space and time boundaries and enhancing the productivity and profitability of organizations. However it has also resulted in several setbacks. Organizations today are dependent on information more than ever before. The successful management of such vast amount of information and data defines their status in the highly competitive external environment. Since organizations in recent times have successfully managed to transcend the time and space boundaries they are now exposed to a highly dynamic and turbulent environment, over which they have hardly any control. The expansion of virtual organizations has widened the scope of business on one hand, and on the other it has increased its interdependence, thus resulting in increased uncertainty and ambiguity (Riemer and Klien 151).
On the other hand it has also led to serious negative consequences on the economy of developing economies. Technology has largely replaced humans with machines across countries. In a bid to compete on a global level such change is inevitable. However such changes powered by technology have increased the levels of unemployment in labor-intensive countries. Also, technology entails the hiring of highly skilled professionals to handle and operate the machinery, forcing organizations to provide adequate training to their staff and investing a significant part of their budgets to accommodate such demands.
Various forms of telecommunication and entertainment tools such as text-to-voice based TRS which uses the analog technology. voice carry over technology for the senior citizens with hearing disability. speech-to-text relay service for people with speech disabilities etc., among others have contributed immensely towards the well-being of people with disabilities. The contribution of enabling technologies in assisting people with various disabilities and providing them the opportunity to participate and co-exist with the mainstream society is undisputable. The rise in work from home jobs ensures increased employment opportunities for the disabled who otherwise would have found it difficult to commute to and from their workplaces.
The use of technology in the field of healthcare has drastically improved the provision of healthcare service delivery and improved the quality of life for the patients. In a study conducted by Powell et al (1073) to assess the contribution and impact of technology in assisting carers of people with dementia it was observed that the use of technology by carers was perceived as highly beneficial and helped them overcome key challenges including the costs. Technology, in the present times, has become an integral and inevitable part of healthcare delivery. It has been documented by researchers that the use of technology as a part of solution has enabled the carers to effectively manage patients in need of long-term care and those suffering from chronic illnesses. It was observed that technology greatly benefited the carers and enabling the patients to prolong their independence and promote their well-being in the process (1074). The use of digital technologies such as networked tele-care applications, social networking services, movement sensors, webcams and tracking devices has enabled the carers to access remote areas and monitor the progress and status of their patients anytime anywhere, thus overcoming the geographical boundaries (1074).
Medical technologies have given hope to millions of people across the globe including infertile couples, heart transplant, bone marrow transplant, etc., On the other hand, it has led to increased risk of negative consequences such as human cloning, abortions, the threat of development of biological weapons etc..
Technology has allowed for increase in sharing of inventions and innovations on the internet, thus making it available to all sections of populations across the globe. It has allowed for increased sharing of information thus educating and informing the global population in the process. Countries with advanced technology can now develop new innovative products and share and market them in other developing countries thus making the benefits of technology available to one and all. It has made sharing of art and literature online and accessible to almost anyone having access to internet connectivity.
However, there has been a rapid rise in cases involving violation of intellectual property rights, digital rights management as well as blatant plagiarism thus indicating the flip side of technology. The internet has indirectly assisted in the rise of illegal activities such as plagiarism, blatant copying and imitation of well-known brands (sale of counterfeit products), and violation of intellectual property rights thus resulting in the rise of a new era signified by the ‘death of the author’ where illegal activities such as theft of intellectual property over-ride the moral and ethical obligations.
Internet technologies have assisted in the development of user-centered approaches for addressing key issues. This has greatly benefited the teachers for overcoming the barriers encountered by them while imparting knowledge to students with special educational needs. It has been established through research that technology enables effective implementation of specially designed study plans to assist students with various learning disabilities such as attention deficit disorder. dyslexia. attention deficit hyperactivity disorder etc. The use of such technologies in special education classrooms has greatly influenced the field of teaching practice and brought about massive changes in the education sector. It has also enabled the teachers and parents to overcome the discriminatory treatment of such children and paved way for their assimilation into the mainstream educational settings (Williams 543).
Cyber bullying is one of the greatest evils of technology. It essentially acts as a platform for abuse and virtual aggression and has unintentionally encouraged acts of hostility. The internet enables complete anonymity to the perpetrators thus giving them a free hand in indulging in destructive behavior online and abusing their targets who are vulnerable to such acts. It has been widely substantiated by researchers that the key target of virtual bullies mostly comprises of young children who are active in the online world, via social networking sites. Furthermore cyber bullying is known to adversely affect and interfere with student learning, and the health and well-being of the students, often resulting in suicides (McCaw, Hemphill, and Myers 8).
Internet technologies have benefited the society in general but have played a key role in improving the quality of life for the disadvantaged and minority sections of the population, in particular. The rise in e-mentoring is one such example of technology whereby the use of online media was used to transform the roles of women in professions and propel their career development. The introduction of a boundary-less career is one of the most significant branches of technology, has assisted the career development of women by introducing novel and innovative work practices. Although the effectiveness and apparent benefits of such technology are under-researched the impact of the same is highly apparent as is evident from the large number of work-from-home jobs made available by prominent organizations.
Technology is widely hailed as one of the most significant tools for contributing to the social, environmental and healthcare fields and improving the quality of life worldwide. However various authors and researchers have pointed out the risks and challenges associated with the use of technology raising societal concerns. It has been argued that over-reliance on technology and technologically assisted tools would eventually result in repetition and hence de-skilling of work thus drastically affecting the skilled workers. Furthermore it is also argued that the blurring of boundaries due to technology and creation of cyberspace would pave way for increased cybercrimes mostly due to the fact that the cyber-world almost guarantees impunity (Malanowski &. Compano 22).
There have been widespread debates concerning the safety of individuals in this rapidly evolving cyber-world. These concerns range from the damage caused to the environment, to the safety of communities and peaceful co-existence of the nations (Plutzer, Maney, and OConnor 191). There were significant concerns regarding the contribution of technology in assisting the scientists in developing nuclear power and weapons of mass destruction (192). The use of technology has greatly influenced the development of destructive weapons and aided in promoting the development and use of strategic defense initiatives (193).
The use of internet technologies has contributed in bringing about significant changes in the entertainment industry by drastically changing its landscape and redefining the manner in which information was used and exchanged. It has enabled the international broadcasters and other media institutions to voice their opinions freely and reach communities located at far corners of the world. The scope of broadcasting was previously limited to passive transmission of information and news to the audience. However with the introduction of new interactive technologies and invention of tools such as webcasts, podcasts and video sharing websites, the scope of international broadcasting has changed and replaced the passive one-way rendering of messages. The re-defining of scope of international broadcasting has enabled the development of new marketing strategies such as cross-branding and facilitated the process of globalization in the process.
However the increased dependence on technology has completely commercialized the media marketplace, who are now increasingly using technology for sensationalizing the news, alarming the public in the process. Digital technology has enabled increased reporting and live coverage of sensational crime stories with extremely prejudicial and dramatic portrayal by the media. Recently a prominent news channel, FOX News aired footage of a man shooting himself while reporting news of a live car chase (The Washington Post) raising serious concerns regarding the ethical and moral aspects of news reporting in the digital age.
In an age where almost all aspects of our everyday lives are governed by and centered on technology, the love/hate relationship with technology is likely to continue. Technology as experienced in contemporary times can best be described as a double-edged sword. Its promises and perils are innumerable, improving and impoverishing human lives both at the same time. This paper on the good and the bad of technology helps in understanding the implications of technology on our everyday lives as well as on the society as a whole.
Cavalier, Robert. "The impact of the internet on our moral lives". New York : SUNY Press
Frazen, Axel. "Does the Internet make us lonely?" European Sociological Review. Vol. 16 (4): p. 427-438
Malanowski, N., Compano, R. "Combining ICT and cognitive science: Opportunities and risks". Emerald Group Publishing, Vol. 9 (3): 18-29
McCaw, Donna., Hemphill, Leaunda., Myers, Jill. "Responding to cyber bullying: An action tool for school leaders". Thousand Oaks, California : Corwin Press.
Plutzer, Eric., Maney, Ardith., OConnor, Robert. "Ideology and elites perceptions of the safety of new technologies". American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 42 (1). 1998: 190-209
Powell, John., Gunn, Lee., Lowe, Pam., Sheehan, Bart., Griffiths, Frances., Clarke, Aileen. "New networked technologies and carers of people with dementia: An interview study". Ageing and Society Vol.30. 2010. Cambridge Unviversity Press: 1073-1088
Riemer, Kai., Klein, Stefan. "Is the V-form the next generation organization? An Analysis of challenges, pitfalls and remedies of ICT-enabled virtual organizations based on social capital theory". Journal of Information Technology, 23. 2008: 147-162
Stoll, Clifford. “Isolated by the Internet” Kennedy, and Kennedy, 392-398.
Williams, Peter. "Using information and communication technology with special needs students: The views of frontline professionals". Emerald Publishing Group. Aslib Proceedings: New Information Perspectives, Vol. 57 (6), 2005: 539-553
The Washington Post "In Online Social Club, Sharing Is the Point Until It Goes Too Far" 2006.