Technological developments have marked out a transformation of humanity, enhancing our faculties and altering them in the process.
‘Intellectual technologies’ in particular—map, clock, typewriter—both augmented our mental abilities and transformed them. Each carried an ‘intellectual ethic’, a hidden norm of mental functioning that might be obscure to users— and even inventors. As these technologies entered general use, passing down through generations, their intellectual ethics became ingrained in the structures of human experience, acquired as a standard by each individual. I would say that the history of technology could be read as a history of transformations in the human mind.
From changes in minor areas like the banking sector, technology has evident impacts on health, education, lifestyle and what not. And it’s only the beginning.
It is estimated that a week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th Century. But today it is estimated that 4 Exabyte of unique information will be generated this year.
The amount of new technical information is doubling every 2 years for students starting a 4-year professional degree. This means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by the third year of study!
The possibility of such progress if you call it is all due to technology! Empowering us with information is one of its significant impacts.
Numerous organizations are going beyond informing to experiment with deeper means of improving practice and behaviour. Some are using e-learning solutions from free YouTube lessons, open online courses—to flip the classroom, letting students learn at their pace at home, and bring their questions to class physically or virtually. No doubts, technology can help shift behaviour.
Data flies around the world at the speed of light and exchanging information and ideas are wise not only for the society but also for any enterprise that wants to remain competitive. Henceforth technology has supported the idea of crowdsourcing allowing businesses to use the input from multiple sources, both within the corporation and externally, to develop solutions for strategic issues or to find better ways to complete tasks. This new culture of innovation allows for idea collaboration and technological innovation for the greater good. Not only this but individuals and communities use technologies that support aggregation and analysis pull together scattered evidence that can surface election fraud, oil spills or earthquake victims. Ketto.org is one such example in India running campaigns on health, children, education.
Other than information, technology improves the reach of products and services that can improve the lives of the underprivileged.
Surely it has the potential to enable solutions to some of the most pressing issues the world faces, not to mention getting the word out on what works a little easier. But it should not be considered a ‘determining’ factor of social life. Responsible use of emerging technology is what we should be focussing on to enjoy its benefits. After all, it is a beautiful tool of information, our prudent use of technology to support social shaping!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the publication