The Role of Technology in Modern Society
Technology plays a fundamental role in the development of human society and civilization. It is an essential tool for communication, information exchange, entertainment, and the dissemination of ideas. Yet, technological change can have both positive and negative impacts. For instance, a new technology may be beneficial in a short term, but it can have long-term social, economic, and environmental impacts.
Nevertheless, technology has contributed to human welfare, as well as to economic interdependence around the world. Many businesses use technological tools to create new products and deliver them on time. These tools also help businesses maintain a competitive edge.
Today, most software is intended to make certain tasks easier to do, to facilitate entertainment, or to improve efficiency. Similarly, many businesses use communication technology to promote their products or services and to communicate with customers. But these technologies are becoming increasingly complicated. As a result, complex structures are needed to keep the global technological enterprise running.
Unlike previous technological advances, today’s technologies have the potential to disrupt social hierarchies and to contribute to pollution. New technology requires sophisticated training, materials, and resources to design, construct, and operate. Moreover, it will have social costs that will affect those who depend on it for their livelihoods. Some of these risks can be mitigated by anticipatory regulation, which addresses the risks associated with a technology before it is fully realized.
Governments struggle to agree on the most appropriate processes for developing norms and standards for new technologies. Multilateral organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) play an important role in establishing appropriate boundaries for government use of new technologies. They develop common standards to guide the global technological enterprise.
The technology development process should be influenced by people who have diverse experience. This includes scientists, who can assess the risks and the benefits of new technologies in terms of science and research. Individuals, who have lived with technologies for a long time, are also important to consider. Ultimately, individual decisions can have as large an effect on the use of modern technologies as do public pressure.
In addition, governments need to engage with technologists to ensure that policymakers understand how technological decisions will impact them and their communities. Technologists, however, are frequently ill-equipped to do this, as are many governments. Therefore, it is crucial to train policymakers to engage with technologists and to learn about their views on the future.
To address the challenges of global technological change, countries need to coordinate more closely. Such coordination can take the form of new governance structures or incentives to encourage cooperation.
A growing number of nations are adopting different approaches to emerging technologies. Some, like the United States, rely more on litigation to resolve problems. Others, such as Europe, have adopted the precautionary principle, which urges governments to limit the use of new technologies before they are fully developed.
Governments, business, and individuals need to engage in discussions about how to ensure that technological changes have a minimal negative impact on the environment and the social order. Although the social dimension of technology remains an important part of the puzzle, it is still difficult to define clear standards.