The Changing Effects of Technology on Society
The subject of technology is so broad that it encompasses all aspects of human thought and activity, both practical and intangible. Technologists are involved in computer science, engineering, information technology, industrial practice, health sciences, environmental science, political science, and a host of others. Technologists are engaged in all aspects of technology and often write about these various areas. They are involved in research and development, product and process development, Internet marketing and design, computer systems, and telecommunications. In the broadest sense, technology is the total set of any such practices, skills, processes, and methods used in the creation of goods and services, including scientific analysis, and in the achievement of specific goals, for example technological, societal, economic, or aesthetic goals.
Technological change is also an integral part of technology. It can be defined as a process by which human activities are transformed to take advantage of new and emergent technologies. The adoption of new information technology is perhaps the most obvious example. Advances in information technology are continually transforming the field of computer science, especially as computer science areas of research mature. The development of information technology is a process by which information is transformed into language, literature, images, data, and interactivity.
Technological change occurs because humans choose to do so, rather than for other reasons. One reason for technological change is economic: as people have more purchasing power, they demand more items and services at lower prices. Another reason is political: as power is decentralized and distributed, leaders have greater incentive to institute social policies that promote the growth of the economy. Yet another reason is technological: technology is developed to solve problems. Even when problems are beyond a person’s ability to solve, technology allows the process of solving those problems to be more efficiently carried out by people with higher education and technological training.
Technological change has significant social and economic impacts. For example, the invention of the steam engine revolutionized the industry, giving birth to textile production. However, the emergence of the railroad created an entirely different kind of employment, that of the rail worker. Although this particular form of employment did not benefit the economy in any way, it changed the way people lived–and the way they thought about money and the role of the state in their lives.
Technology also has far reaching effects on society at large. Some studies suggest that the rapid spread of the Internet, for instance, has reduced the opportunities available for real estate entrepreneurs. At the same time, advances in technology have increased access to high-speed Internet services at home and at work. These two developments, in turn, have affected the way people communicate and interact. The increased use of technology in education and government, for example, has led to the employment of many more individuals with higher education levels than ever before.
Today’s society is built upon the basic principles of modern technology. The speed of the Internet, for instance, dramatically reduces waiting times between inquiries and delivery of goods and services. The incorporation of sophisticated technology into daily life has made the world a much more interactive place in ways never seen before. As technology continues to advance, society will discover many other ramifications of its impact on the lives of everyone living in it.