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Technology & Environment
Perhaps it is difficult to talk about technological advances without relating them to the environment. Over the years, research has demonstrated that technological decisions have both favorable and unfavorable outcomes on the environment (Rose, 2009) and that the effects of technology on the environment are both obvious and subtle (Jaffe et al., 2003).
Recent advances in technology have seen scientists develop complicated systems that are able to analyze environmental changes and provide early warning signs of impending disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. Technology has also seen the advancement of machinery and chemicals with the capacity to clean the environment and hasten the degradation of biodegradable materials.
Undeniably, however, technological activities have heightened the depletion of non-renewable materials such as petroleum and core, contributed to wanton destruction of natural resources such as forest cover, and facilitated human suffering through diseases caused by air, water, and land pollution (Jaffe et al., 2003).
Electronic waste dumped in landfills in the United States, for instance, has been blamed for increased cases of nerve disorders and joint pain in adults because this waste releases dangerous metals such as lead, mercury, and lithium into the environment. Lead released into the environment from old computer monitors and other electronic hardware has also been associated with increased incidences of brain damage, cancerous tumors, and anemia in young children and adults. An equally worrying trend is the rate at which the ozone layer is being depleted as a direct consequence of technological activities that are increasingly polluting the environment. Today, courtesy of the air pollution caused by engines running on fossil fuel, rainfall patterns have become erratic and new terminologies such as “global warming” and “acid rain” keep hitting headline news (Jaffe et al., 2003; Rose, 2009).
Technology & Travel
Ancient people used natural energy provided by humans, animals, or the wind to move from one place to another. Stories abound of how some ancient sea voyages took hundreds of days to move a distance of 1000 kilometers (Harris, 2009). Today, however, the travel and transportation sector has undergone a dramatic shift owing to advances in technology.
It is important to note that there would be no fossil fuels if there was no technology in the first place. People rely on fossil fuels to power their cars, motorbikes, ships, trains, and planes for purposes of faster and efficient transportation, but also to explore and expand their possibilities in the world (Harris, 2009). Consequently, it would be in order to argue that technology has improved transportation as both society and business organizations continue to benefit from new transportation methods brought about by technological activity.
Owing to technological advances, people with visual, sensory, and cognitive impairments can now engage in traveling without relying on assistance from their relatives and friends. Various technological innovations, including robotics, artificial intelligence, and touch sensors, have enhanced the mobility and navigation of individuals with special needs (Harris, 2009). This is welcome news considering the fact that people with special needs form a considerable proportion of the population in the United States and abroad.
Lastly, it can be argued that faster modes of transportation brought about by advances in technology have stimulated economic growth as well as regional and global integration (Harris, 2009). Goods for trade can now be transported much faster-using air, land, or sea, resulting in faster economic development. People can now use airplanes to travel to distant foreign lands, resulting in cultural integration and improvement in the quality of life.
Technology & Farming
Farming is undeniably one of the core areas that have benefited the most from advances in technology. Technology has not only mechanized agriculture through the introduction of complicated equipment such as plows, advanced water sprinklers, and harvesters, but also brought faster maturing and disease-resistant seeds through biotechnology (UseofTechnology, 2012a).
In recent years, courtesy of technology, farming is no longer a labor-intensive endeavor as contemporary agricultural technology allows a small number of farmers to cultivate the land and grow immense quantities of food in a short time-frame and with less input, resulting in higher farm yields and return on investment (UseofTechnology, 2012a). The abundance of food as a result of agricultural technology ensures that many countries are self-sufficient in terms of feeding the population.
Many farmers rely on fertilizers to grow healthy crops. Today, more than ever before, farmers have access to artificial fertilizers that not only add value to the soil composition and nutrients but also boost the growth of food crops to ensure maximum yields. Farmers in ostensibly desert countries such as Egypt and Israel are now in a position to grow healthy oranges and other food crops using technologically automated pumps and sprinklers which draw water from rivers to distant farmlands (UseofTechnology, 2012a).
Drawing from the above exploration of facts, it is evident that technology will definitely contribute towards global food sustainability if concerted efforts are made to harness numerous possibilities provided by agricultural engineering and biotechnology. For instance, recent trends indicate that all countries have the capacity to feed their populations if legislation is made to allow farmers to grow genetically modified crops.
Technology & Communication
There exists compelling evidence that technology already has a substantial impact not only on communication as a distinct field, but also on the processes, structures, and mediums that are used by people to communicate. It is common knowledge that people, communities, and organizations rely on communicative processes to transfer and receive information. In this respect, it can be argued that technological advances have improved the communicative processes by coming up with innovative products and services that only serve to enrich the communication experience. Recent technology marvels such as the World Wide Web, the Internet, social media platforms, and email capabilities have enhanced the way people exchange information and ideas for mutual growth and posterity (Bezweek & Egbu, 2010).
Advances in technology have brought into the fore effective and efficient mechanisms to disseminate information to the population. Doctors are now using video links to communicate important health information and prescriptions to their patients. In equal measure, politicians are using the television and radio to effectively and efficiently communicate their political ideologies to the electorate. Instructors all over the world are now using the Internet to disseminate teaching materials and assessments to students, who also use the same medium to communicate with their instructors for any clarifications that may be needed. Such communication mediums come with a distinct advantage of reaching a wider audience. Consequently, it can also be argued that technology has assisted our communicative processes to reach a wider audience (Bezweek & Egbu, 2010).
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Critics however point to the fact that technology is increasingly alienating people and facilitating a breakdown of the social fabric as it discourages people from interacting physically while communicating (Bezweek & Egbu, 2010). A story is told of a husband and wife who live in the same house but do not see eye to eye and hence prefer to use the mobile phone’s short messaging service to communicate with each other. Such a trend can only lead to the decadence of the social and moral fabric, not to mention that it spells doom to the existence of interpersonal relationships.
Technology & Organizational Productivity
Stiff competition for customers and markets is increasingly forcing organizations to improve their production efficiencies. Available literature demonstrates that technology, which is developing at a blinding speed, has taken over as the principal instrument which organizations are using to achieve and sustain productive efficiencies for competitive advantage (Gagnon & Dragon, 2008).
Fast and efficient communication methods used by organizations, including email, fax, and telex, are byproducts of technology. These channels have enabled organizations to save on many resources such as time and money, hence increasing organizational productivity (Gagnon & Dragon, 2008).
Owing to fast Internet connections brought about by recent advances in technology, many organizations are now allowing employees to work from home in an arrangement known as telecommuting. Such an arrangement allows organizations to save on money that could have been paid out to employees in transport allowances.
Moving on, it is evident that software developers are increasingly developing programs that allow organizations to function efficiently and effectively, hence increasing their productive base (Gagnon & Dragon, 2008). Accounting software such as QuickBooks and Sage, for instance, have become critical operating tools for auditors and managers as they attempt to seal loopholes that could see organizations lose money. Such tools can only increase organizational productivity. The Internet has also contributed to organizational productivity due to its rich information base and the capacity it provides to HR managers in recruiting personnel from a wider talent base. Lastly, it is often said that the Internet is increasingly becoming the engine for innovation and creativity within the organizational context.
Technology & Culture
Recent advances in technology are increasingly challenging the way people perceive some cultural activities and beliefs. To start, it is clear that people are now depending on technology for a host of activities, including socializing, communicating, learning, traveling, and doing business. In this respect, traditional ways of doing things are quickly being overtaken by events that are reminiscent of the digital era. Interpersonal relationships are no longer acknowledged as the preferred way to socialize and create friendship; rather, total strangers are meeting on Facebook or Twitter and creating friendship and mutual trust in cyberspace. Such activities are increasingly questioning our traditional values and beliefs.
One article written by Singh (2012) demonstrates that technology “has a great impact on all the fundamental aspects of all our cultures including laws and how they are enforced, language, art, health care, mobility, education and religion” (para. 4). Several decades ago, culture dictated upon people to seek medical attention in health facilities once they fell sick. Today, however, this cultural belief has been diminished by technology as more and more people seek medical services through telemedicine.
Technology has assisted people to overcome their racial and cultural barriers upon interacting in social media and realizing that it is only the color of their skin that is different but not their cognitive or sensory capabilities (Singh, 2012). The Internet, in particular, has transformed the world into a global village, thus helping people to learn more about other cultures and traditions. These virtual interactions, according to Singh (2012), have been instrumental in assisting individuals to more effortlessly overcome existing cultural and racial barriers.
Technology & Media
Recent advances in technology have impacted the media both positively and negatively. On the positive side, it is conceivable to argue the Internet has impacted the media industry in major ways. Amateur online journalists are now downloading publishing software from the Internet and posting content on open publishing sites such as Indymedia (Center for Communication & Civic Engagement, n.d.).
Various media forums have become more interactive due to advances in technology. For example, online newspaper readers can now provide a real-time critique to articles written in mainstream media, while also posting supplementary content to provide context and counterarguments. More importantly, a large number of people are now able to follow news items on the Internet, reflecting a mounting trust in alternative media (Center for Communication & Civic Engagement, n.d). Such exposure and interaction are beneficial for the social, economic, and political development of communities.
On the negative side, technology has been used in advertising campaigns to deceive consumers about the qualities or characteristics of products and services. Multinationals use camera trick technology to deceive innocent consumers that they will look exactly the same as the image on the billboard once they apply the advertised beauty products. Equally worrying is the fact that some gadgets such as mobile phones can be used by young children to access media that is counterproductive to their moral growth and development. Research has also demonstrated that children and a considerable number of adults spend more time relaxing in front of television sets than doing any other productive activity besides sleeping.
The Negative Effects Technology has on People
It is common knowledge that “with every advancement that is made in the technological world, creative destruction results” (use of technology, 2012b). For example, the Internet has received credit for opening the information superhighway to users; however, the same Internet is been blamed for increased moral decadence by providing a framework through which minors get the opportunity to access phonographic content. In this regard, it can be argued that Technology has contributed immensely to the breakdown of the social fabric.
Some forms of technological innovations serve to drag economic growth and development due to their addictive nature. Some people are known to spend a considerable amount of their productive hours in front of the television set instead of engaging in activities that would uplift their social and economic status. Employees are also known to spend a considerable amount of time on social networking sites instead of engaging in activities that would benefit the organizations they work for. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to hear of terminologies such as acid rain and global warming due to increased pollution (use of technology, 2012b).
Our insatiable appetite for new technologies and the advancement of current technologies has been blamed for not only entrenching the depletion of natural resources but also contributing to increased pollution. Our natural resources are unable to sustain the demand without exploiting and possibly depleting the resources available. Such a trend does not add value to the benefits that we may receive from these technologies as it implies that future generations will not have any resources to depend on. Increased pollution brought about by technology has affected every sphere of our own existence (use of technology, 2012b).
Bezweek, S., & Egbu, C. (2010). Impact of information technology in facilitating communication and collaboration in Libyan public sector organizations. Web.
Center for Communication & Civic Engagement. (n.d.). The Internet’s impact on news media. Web.
Gagnon, Y.C., & Dragon, J. (2008). The impact of technology on organizational performance. Optimum: The Journal of Public Sector Management, 28(1), 19-31. Web.
Harris, J. (2009). Transportation: The impact of science and technology. London: Gareth Stevens Publishing LLLP.
Jaffe, A.B., Newell, R.G., & Stavins, R.N. (2003). Technological change and the environment. Web.
Rose. M.A. (2009). Impacts of technology on the environment: Resources for decision making. Web.
Singh, J. (2012). How technology affects our society. Web.
UseofTechnology. (2012a). Use of technology in agriculture. Web.
UseofTechnology. (2012b). Technology and society – Impact of technology on society. Web.