Technologyand society Technology is a term thatrefers to both artifacts created by humans, such as machines, and the methodsused to create those artifacts.
Technologyaffects the way individuals learn, communicate, and think. It defines society and determines how one interacts withothers on a day to day basis. Technology has both advantageous and disadvantageous outcomes onthe society. This essay will revolve around how technology shapes thesociety as well as how the society contributes towards shaping technology. Ifwe suppose that new technologies are introduced to achieve increasedefficiency, the history of technological advancement shows that we wouldsometimes be disappointed. Technological change expresses a panoply of humanmotives (Winner, 1980)1.
Because of technological advancement manyjobs have been eliminated causing increased unemployment in various sectors ofsome highly developed countries and has created an uneven distribution ofincome. However, on the contrary underdeveloped countries have used thisstrategy to increase employment and have become giant manufacturers in exports,according to (Winner,1980)1, the technology also has another facethat includes inequality. Lastly technology drives the industrial output,which leads to industrialisation creating a new era of increased technologicalunemployment. Technologyis progressive and in one way it is shaped by business and society. For example,apple makes new phone every year with minor tweaks and innovation. Technology isused to promote business, helps to achieve better efficiency and higherproductivity. In China, Alibaba rates a person based on the data it collects,technology monitors people: example of this can be witnessed in many places suchas on WhatsApp which reads the receipt and university attendance cards. Due tothis technological activity, people are more aware which has a positive effecton society.
Theauthor, Lewis Mumford (1964)2, suggested the pre-occupancy of twosystems; the Authoritarian and the Democratic. Both the systems consist of anadvantage and disadvantage, which would prove the minor and major between thetwo existing systems.2 Thus,environmentalist Denis Hayes concludes: “The increased deployment of Nuclearpower facilities must lead society toward authoritarianism.
Indeed, safereliance upon nuclear power as the principle source of energy may be possibleonly in totalitarian state.” – (Hayes, 1977)3 Additionally,he contends that “dispersed solar sources are more compatible thancentralized technologies with social equity, freedom and cultural diversity.” – (Hayes, 1977)3 In1776, Adam Smith’s masterwork ‘The Wealth of Nations’ praised the great varietyof “very pretty machines” that manufacturers were installing to “facilitate andabridge labour.” By enabling “one man to do the work of many” (Carr,2014)4.He predicted, mechanization would provide a great boost to industrialproductivity. Factory owners would earn more profits, which they would theninvest in expanding their operations building more plants, buying more machinesand hiring more employees. Each individual machine’s abridgment of labour, farfrom being bad for workers, would stimulate demand for labour in the long run. Politicalargument supports to increase the production of innovative products, whichmeans there is always new technology to help expedite the production and makework simpler.
As a result, causing a decrease in job opportunities in many industries.For example, in the agricultural industry the number of tomato growers declined,due to the mechanical tomato harvester, perfected by researchers at theUniversity of California, caused a further loss of roughly 32,000 jobs intomato industry. This is a negative consequence of mechanisation (l Winnerpg.126). Whereas, in underdeveloped countries such as China and India, therehas been positive effects of mechanisation technology, producing many jobs forpeople. Henceforth, to dominate economically, various countries have attemptedto create technology as cheap as possible. One benefit of training employees tospecialise in one particular task, which involves working closely withtechnology, is an increase in productivity.
However, due to cheap labour,competition has increased between more developed and underdeveloped countries.America, for example, outsources their work to China causing an uneven distributionof income. Indicating how society uses technology to establish a positive ornegative effect on the lives of individuals. Moreover,as we have observed how technology has helped to develop society by creatingmore jobs and having seen the overall pie of the economy growing, there aresome, even a majority, whom may be affected negatively by the advancement oftechnology.
As the demand for labour falls, especially unskilled labour, so toodoes wages. Thenoble prize-winning economist Wassily Leontief stated in 1983: “the role ofhumans as the most important factor of production is bound to diminish in thesame way that the role of horses in agricultural production was firstdiminished and then eliminated by the introduction of tractor”1- (Leontief,1983) Incontradiction, a panel of economist assembled by the National Academy of Sciencesmade a strong, comprehensive and positive statement that technologicaladvancement will not eliminate human labour jobs. On the other hand, in acompetitive market, reducing the cost of production will result in a decline inthe price of a finished good. Technological change frequently increases theoutput demand which will result in greater demand for the labour. In this context, Winner Studiesformed major insights, which expresses that technology also has another facethat includes inequality.
For example, winner states that in the united statesmany overpasses on the motorways have been built to achieve purposes of inequalityand racial prejudice. In fact, these overpasses are extremely low and they donot allow the public transport with lower class people mainly blacks to getthrough them.1 Which justifies that winner’s argument on “Doartifacts have politics “was valid.
Lastly technology drivesoutput, leading towards industrialisation due to cheap technology andglobalisation it has now become easier than ever for countries to manufacturegoods.Industrializationis the practice with the help of which an economic system is transformed from mainlyagricultural to one based on the producing of products. Person manual hard workis frequently changed with the aid of mechanised mass production this processis known as automation.
Vast number of countries have approved this strategic methoddue to globalisation. After 1970s the world economy entered new phase ofcapitalist globalisation. This involved revolutionary changes in informationtechnology, widespread privatisation, liberalisation of international trade. (Nolan,1970s)5 The period of the global business revolution witnessedmassive asset restructuring, with firms selling off their non-core business inorder to develop their core business. By the 1980s the global business saw for thefirst time the emergence of widespread industrial concentration across all the high-incomecountries. Large firms with their headquarters in high income countries built aglobal production system through both organic growth and explosive merger andacquisition this led to a new separation of ownership and control. (Nolan,1980s)5 Accordingto Leontief (1983, p.
409), the phenomenon of technological unemployment hasbeen affecting underdeveloped countries for many years under the name of”Disguised agricultural unemployment”6. Furthermore, WassilyLeontief (1983, p.406) states many different kinds of remedies in his textswhich would help to tackle the problem of unemployment and income distribution,but the countries and businesses are not willing to sacrifice the benefitsproduced by these technological advances to solve this problem and they preferto maintain their strong position in the market even if many workers sufferfrom this situation.6 Technological changes willprimarily affect the demand for labour, although at the same time it willincreasingly affect the supply for example it has been estimated that theoutput of four- ounce prescription bottles is forty-one times greater per manhour, electric light bulb can be produced thirty-one times more rapidly bymachine than by hands.7Recent estimates of technologicalunemployment by the author Ewan Claque suggests that early in 1929 there were amillion fewer workers engaged in manufacturing than there were in 1920.8 Hence, from the above study it can be concluded,technological advancement and automation may cause higher unemployment in shortterm but in long term it will create more jobs. To tackle technological unemploymentin the short term, government in advance countries can help by introducing unemploymentrelief programme and also offer “income policies” whereas in less developedcountries government can use traditional income maintenance measure which wouldbe more effective.
I completely agree with the theory discussed by professorPaul Douglas.9 He disagrees entirely with the writers like Brynjolfsson and McAfee who fear thattechnological unemployment results in an increase number of the permanentunemployment. He concludes that the “net result of these technologicalimprovements is not permanent unemployment, as at first seemed to be the case,but rather a transfer of labour from some lines to others” and that it is”clear that permanent technological unemployment is impossible”.9 Bibliography: 1) Winner,L.
‘Do artifacts have politics’, Modern Technology: problem or opportunity?,vol. 109, No. 1, pp.121-136. 2) LewisMumford, “Authoritarian and Democratic Technics,” Technology and Culture, vol.
5,No 1, pp.1-8. 3) Denis Hayes, Rays of hope: The transition to aPost-Petroleum World (New York: W.W.
Norton,1977), pp.71,159. 4) Carr, Nicholas. “Should the Laborer FearMachines?” The Atlantic,Atlantic Media Company, 29 Sept. 2014, www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/09/should-the-laborer-fear-machines/380476/. 5) Nolan, P’Who are we’? IS CHINA BUYING THE WORLD?pp.
15-25. 6) Leontief,W. (1983)’Technological Advance, Economic Growth, and the Distribution ofincome, Population and Development Review, vol.9, No.3 ,pp.403-410.
7) “Displacementof labour by machinery in the Glass industry, “monthly labour review, vol.24,No 4, pp. 1-13,1927 8) R.
Clyde White, Social Forces, TechnologicalUnemployment, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 572-581.Available:URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3006155Accessed 12/12/17.
9) Paul H. Douglas, “technological unemployment,American federationist, vol. 37, No. 8,1930, pp.923-950. Available:URL: http://www.jstor.