Use of Technology
Multi-functionality of Technology
Motivation of Developers and Users of Technology
This paper considers whether technology is neutral or not. The big question answered by this essay is "Is it humans who abuse technology or technology by its own nature affects humans negatively?” Technological innovations have brought so many changes in the way people go about their lives. Many recent technological innovations happened in the field of communication. The internet is currently at the center of many people’s lives and corporate entities’ operations. Technological innovations have consequences, both negative and positive. Technology is like a tool and people have first and foremost the choice to use or not use. Secondly, if they choose to use, people still have a choice on how to use technology. Technology on its own has no capacity of dictating how it should be used or if it should be used in the first place.
Technology in itself is neutral and harmless. However, the way technology is used may be neutral and not neutral depending on effects on people. Socially, the application of technology is known to marginalize people. The use of technologically advanced equipments, for instance, makes some people to feel superior over others. Differences in technology used can also make some people, not in the knowing, to feel out of place in given situations.
Each technological development has a main function that it is intended to accomplish. However, a technology can have many uses or aspects to it depending on how one approaches or looks at it (Bishop et al 69). Often, the developers of the technology do not consider other aspects of a given technology. As a result, although being used correctly and for a noble cause, technology can have negative consequences such as pollution, resource depletion as well as ecosystem modification. These negative consequences may affect people directly or indirectly. In such a case, one may be tempted to think that technology is not neutral. However, in itself, the technology remains neutral. What is questionable is the application of or continued use of the technology even after it is discovered that it has negative side effects.
Socially, the adoption of technology has tended towards having dire consequences on people e.g. loss of jobs due to automation. When institutions adopt use of say computers or robots, although this may improve productivity in the institutions, many people lose a livelihood. Once again, it is good to note that the technology in itself is good. However, its adoption without considering the livelihood of many people and providing alternate employment is questionable. Rather than attribute the loss of jobs to adoption of technology, it is more appropriate to blame the loss of jobs on the decision to adopt technology. Additionally, it is important to focus on the main function of technology but go beyond that to explore other possible benefits and functions of the same (Sclove 10).
In often cases, a technological innovation that can be used for the good of many people can also be used to harm many. This results from the multi-functionality of many technological innovations (Sclove 11). It is easy to use it for different purposes. Applying a given functionality of a given technology may yield good results; however, when another given functionality is exploited, catastrophes are witnessed. Nuclear energy can be used towards running our factories cost effectively. However, nuclear technology in the likes of Osama’s hands may mean total annihilation of some states in the world.
The use of technology is often shaped by social circumstances, technology developers declared intentions and users creativity. Each technological innovation is often modifiable, within limits, and thus one technology becoming applicable for different purposes. Adoption and use of technology affects material things and also social organizations. The use of technology redefines social structures in a big way i.e. how people interrelate and interact with each other. Technology generally changes the value people associate to given processes. Further, its usage is known to change value structures in society. Let us take motor technology, for example, it led to people not having to stay in the same village all the time because they could easily move around and meet each other. Social networks on the internet have changed the public sphere or the general meaning of private space. While private space traditionally meant ones room or away in the woods, people this days create private niches in cyber space (Benkler 212).
New technology is known to open business space thus creating myriad business opportunities for individuals. Technological changes may affect an organization negatively or positively depending on how it responds to the change. If organizations respond correctly, technological innovations provide an opportunity for curving out a competitive advantage. If the response is poor, organizational resources become redundant and the company has to invest heavily as it tries to catch up. Generally, change in technology often means more costs for the organization but it often pays off in the long run (Monsma 31).
In daily life, it appears like people are subjects or slaves of technology rather than masters (Leiss 28-29). However, what many do not notice is that social change is driven by the people themselves. By not stopping and considering, just remaining gullible consumers of technological innovations, people allow others to drive their lives by way of technological innovations. In some people, capacity to influence others through use of technology has led to a grandiose obsession with the prospect of totally controlling nature (Ihde 6).
The arguments presented in this essay only point to the fact that technology is neutral i.e. in itself; it is neither good nor bad. What makes technology good or bad is how we use it. Technology like any tool can be used for the harm of other or for the good of others. It is important to argue that all the effects or consequences of a given action before making a move. If people applied technology with enough discretion, technology would continue to serve mankind.
Benkler, Yochai. The Wealth Of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006
Bishop, Ann, P., Van House Nancy A., Buttenfield, Barbara, Pfeil. Digital Library Use: Social Practice in Design and Evaluation. MIT Press, 2003
Ihde, Don. Technology and the Life world: from Garden to Earth. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990
Leiss, William. Under Technology's Thumb. Ontario: McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 1990
Monsma, V. Stephen. Responsible Technology: a Christian Perspective. Michigan: B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1986
Sclove, Richard. Democracy and Technology.New York: Guilford Press, 1995