Cutting with the Wrong Side of the Sword

Given how integral technology and the computer have become in today’s society, it is hard to remember that the first user-friendly Internet interface only came into existence in the early 1990’s. Because society still remains in its infancy in regards to advancing technology, the decisions people make today about how to implement and utilize this technology will greatly effect technology’s permanent role in society in the future. While countless examples of technology’s positive effects on civilization exist, and people such as Andrew MacAfree express how they are confident society will utilize technology to help end poverty and improve the world as a whole, there still exists negative implementations and creations of technology, begging the question, how many times will society cut with the wrong side of the double-edge sword? 

No one can argue with the positive impacts technology has had on society. From aiding businesses such as Zara to cater to customer demand to improving the interconnectedness of the global economy, technology has improved the efficiency and ease of everyday life. However, for every example where technology improves society, there exists an example where people have misused it.

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The tweet that started it all

For instance, most recently, a woman’s tweet of a picture of two men at a tech conference scrutinizing them for their allegedly sexist comments blew up over Twitter and Facebook and resulted in both the woman and one of the men featured in the picture loosing their jobs. This example illustrates one of the many ways society can misuse technology as people use social media to stimulate controversy. Additionally, it demonstrates how societal behavior has not yet evolved to deal with the powerful tool of publication every single person now has access to. People must become savvier in the proper usage and dealings of technology in order to promote its positive effects; otherwise the impact of social media could become detrimental to society.

Not only do people misuse already existing technologies, but they also create technology that could prove harmful to society. For example, The H(app)athon Project has a goal of creating an app that will collect data and record user activity throughout the day in order to make people happier and more satisfied, blurring the line between computer efficiently and humanity itself. Imagine, humans creating technology in order to promote human happiness. While I believe in the benefits of technology, I think a proper time and place exist for it, and compensating for human feeling and rationalization is not one. However, what does this say about society that people would even think of creating such an app? What does this say about society’s growing dependence on technology?  Society must proceed with caution in weighing the consequences of where we implement technology today in order to have the most positive effect of technology for tomorrow.

A Ted Talk that elaborates more on this idea:

Finally, technology continues to replace humans in the workforce. While technology has created new jobs, society remains in a very transitional state as people learn how to function and prosper along side the technology of today.

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Sign in front of a mall help desk

For example, apps have now progressed to take the place of help desk personal at the mall. Society must weigh the importance of face-to-face interaction to the efficiency of technology. How we choose to utilize technology rather than human labor today will greatly affect the shape technology faces in the future. All in all, I am confident in societies ability to adapt to change. The bigger question is how many mistakes and misuses of technology will society make before we get it right?

For more information on each example, see the below links:

Sexism Scandal

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/03/21/sexism-public-shaming-via-twitter-leads-to-two-people-getting-fired-including-the-shamer/?utm_campaign=techtwittersf&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

Happiness App

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidferris/2013/03/20/are-you-happy-an-app-tries-to-raise-our-collective-mood/?utm_campaign=techtwittersf&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

Job Loss

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324678604578342690461080894.html?mod=e2tw

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4 thoughts on “Cutting with the Wrong Side of the Sword

  1. I agree with your point of view that humans in the modern era often relies heavily on technology. I can’t remember the last time I had a conversation with someone without them being distracted by their mobile devices. Eventually it is up to us to change the way we interact with technology.

  2. I like what George said that it is “up to us to change the way we interact with technology.” I think it is terrifying think that we are looking for technology to make us happy. What initiatives do we need to start taking to ensure that we don’t make too many “mistakes”? Where does change need to begin? With the technology companies ensuring that their users are being smart with technology? In the classroom? Will it be educator’s responsibility to teach students how to use technology wisely? Or is it in the hand of every individual?

  3. I also agree that in the end it is up to us to determine the way we interact with technology and I believe change is needed. In regard to the sexism scandal exploding on Twitter, I think it is up to us to develop guidelines for proper social media etiquette. It is situations like this that will shape what is deemed acceptable and unacceptable in social media interactions. Because technology and social media have begun to permeate our lives in so many new ways mistakes and misuse are inevitable, however it is vital that we learn from these mistakes in order to direct the use of technology in a positive direction. It may take some time but I believe we can change our interactions with technology to enhance human life instead of harming it.

  4. Job obsolescence promoted by technological developments is a difficult situation to deal with. I believe in the long-term humanity benefits from the technological benefits and the incentive to specialize in higher-skilled labor. Unfortunately, in the short-term not everyone will have equal access to the opportunities needed to develop such skills. Taking a proactive approach to expanding access is much more difficult than a reactive approach that happens after job obsolescence has occurred.

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