social determinism and technology

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For the last few years, technology has been an indispensable part of human life. Even though many people favor evolution and applaud technology's successes in recent decades, this machine has destroyed nearly every significant part of human existence. Technological advancement and its associated consequences have accelerated the degradation of nature while also weakening the current order between humans and other living beings. Though most researchers have used technical determinism to describe technological evolution, it only provides partial accounts of this process. The change in technology is still one of the factors which influence the existence of humans besides economic and political factors. If the biological and physical effects of technology become complicated to understand the social consequences also become complex. The social setting of a particular community will significantly influence the type of technology development which the people support.

Moreover, the technological demands of the society will underpin the kind of technology adopted. Accordingly, the social determinism plays a significant role in technological development. Development of technology has over a long time been treated as separate subject different and unrelated to cultural, social and organizational aspects. However, the existing techno-economic standpoint utilized by scholars tend to accentuate technical possibilities of future progress. Through the use of the internet, people have acquired general information such as news and weather information. Technology does not only matter to the biological and physical system but also to the building of the human relationship in the society which is an important facet in building the trajectory for its advancement. However, technological determinism has remained to be the central driving force to the development of the internet.

Technological and Social Determinism

Technology has become an indispensable component of human life over a century now. Additionally, it has remained a vital aspect of the human condition in the 21st-century. One side of technology that makes it celebrated and admired by many is its ability to provide cloth, feed and offer shelter to people for over a century (Helman 2011, p.1194). Besides, transporting, entertaining and healing in a bid to improve and sustain the life of creatures on earth particular of humans. However, the other side of the technological development and its association is the capacity to kill and destroy nature as well as destroy the order that exist between humans and other living creatures. Whether for good or ill, these devices and systems are interlaced indistinguishably into the fabric of human life ranging from the time one is born until death.

Additionally, it has found wide range of application in homes, school, and places of work. People are astounded at how this vital facet has intertwined every part of human life ranging from the rich to poor, employed, unemployed, man and woman have access to both simple and technical devices. Even though many may support the evolution and admire its successes over the last decades, this system has ruined almost every important aspect of human life (Johns 2002, p.107) For instance, the use of smart phones among people have witnessed increased crime in most metropolitan cities both in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Furthermore, these gadgets have ruined the social relationship that has existed since traditional times, encouraging mistrust among married couples. Indeed, technology has impacted negatively on the social organization that existed among people of the same culture leading to cultural erosion in most parts of the world particularly in Africa continent and developed nations (Mader 2009, p.131). Consequently, most individuals are concerned by the effects of the ever-growing technology in the 21st century. When the newspapers and other social media discuss this interlinking of technology, they presume the dominating reason to technology development is the technological determinism. The changes in technology have been either as a result of following their logic or advancement in science which then brings with them different influence on the overall society (Drezner 2010, p.32; Grint & Woolgar 1997, p.65). For instance, some scholars do believe the development of computers is following the trajectories close to natural laws (Park & Magee 2017, p.02). The most famous law the explains the course taken by technological development over a century now is Moore’s law. The technical support of modernity has encouraged the technological revolution of information and communication that most scholars have ascertained that will progressively change and keep varying as long as humans exist (MacKenzie & Wajcman 1999, p.03).

Technological determinism as a theory of Society

Even though most scholars have used the technological determinism to explain the development of technology, it gives partial truth about this phenomenon (MacKenzie & Wajcman 1999, p.03). In the 21st century technology has formed an integral part of humans; therefore, it matters to a human being. Conversely, this development should not only matter in terms of its material condition to human life, physical and biological environment but also to the way people live as a society (Jordana et al. 2005, p.341). The change in technology is still one of the factors which influence the existence of humans besides economic and political factors, among others. If the biological and physical effects of technology become complicated to understand the social consequences also become complex. A ‘hard’ but modest cause-and-result technological determinism is not a good form for the concept of social modification. Nevertheless, failure of ‘hard’ technological determinism can never overlook a ‘soft’ determinism and proclaim that social effects of technology are multifaceted and contingent.

Langdon Winner wrote an article that undermines the assumption of technology being neutral to the society (MacKenzie & Wajcman 1999, p.04). In his article, Winner proclaims that all that matters in technological development is how the society accepts to utilize the system. He also stated that in most cases technology could be intrinsically political. For instance, technologies can be designable either consciously or unconsciously to open up some social opportunities while closing others. Winner claimed that New York builders such as Robert Moses constructed road systems that could encourage the movement of particular people while prohibiting that of others in the society. Secondly, he argues that particular characteristics of technologies cannot only be political but also technologies are political themselves. Some technologies can support particular social patterns in the community, while others may seem compatible with another different social circumstance.

The social setting of a particular community will significantly influence the type of technology development supported by people. Furthermore, the technological demands of the society will underpin the kind of technology adopted. Accordingly, the social determinism plays a significant role in technological development (Michael 1997 p.1022). For instance, the invention of mobile phones in the society was determined by the need to keep communication between individuals in the community. Information and communication technology has grown faster than any other form of technology in the 21st century. ICT has witnessed tremendous societal changes over the last ten decades throughout the world. In particular, social media such as Facebook, the internet and mobile phones have been connected to certain transformation in the society over a period of 15-20 years (Kirkwood 2014 p.206). Nonetheless, the development of ICT has witnessed disparity impact among several individuals within a community leading to digital divide and inequality.

Research has revealed the young and affluent individuals within the society have more access to equipment and can apply them for a broad assortment of purposes than others (elderly and less affluent) (Kirkwood 2014, p.206).

Technological Determinism as a Theory of Technology

The understanding that technology only changes either by following its accord or science has considerably promoted a submissive attitude among experts and policy-makers to the change and development in technology. Such an understanding has forced humans to focus their minds on ways to adapt to this development and not to shape to reflect the actuality of the society. Technology does not only matter to the biological and physical ecosystem but also to the building of the human relationship in the society which is an important facet in building the trajectory for its advancement.

Scholars have noted technological determinism is partially right as a theory in explaining the development of technology in the community (Yoo 2014, p.915; MacKenzie & Wajcman 1999, p.06). Nevertheless, its inadequacy as a technical theory weakens the political existence of the societies. As an integral part of modernization, the change in technology should be a major feature that societies require to shape and not to respond to the development passively. Frequently, most stakeholders and observers perceive the efforts to advance technological politics as anti-technology since they view it as an act to impose rigid, negative and political controls upon technology (MacKenzie & Wajcman 1999, p.06). Consequently, many commentators have never supported the politics of technology since the inception of the system.

Traditionally, the development of technology has over a long time been treated as separate subject different and unrelated to cultural, social and organizational aspects. However, the existing techno-economic standpoint utilized by scholars tend to accentuate technical possibilities of future developments. Conversely, they consider the cultural, organizational values and social norms as some of the barriers that are likely to impact negative or positively in technological progress (Robinson et al. 2016, p.4).

The judgement of machines, devices, systems and structures should be based only on the accuracy and efficiency as well as effects but also on how they can influence particular forms of authority and power (Winner 1988, p.19). Some specific technologies have affected the destruction and undermined the peaceful coexistence of societies. Technological development of weapons ranging from simple tools such as arrows to more sophisticated such as missiles have impacted negatively on the existence of various communities in the world today (Júnior & Silva, 2014, p.100). Dangerous weapons such as gun have led to the mass killings of innocent people within the society. Additionally, the development of artifacts has heightened the mistrust and suspicion among societies (Latour 1992, p.226).

When the internet first emerged as a tool used for mass-market in the business world, the system was often discussed in sycophantic terms. The shift of industries to technology-oriented from traditionally manufacturing form resulted in creation of new economies featured by the high rate of growth (Yoo 2013 p.914). Accordingly, the internet has provided new opportunities for businesses to improve the value of customer experience by allowing these companies to reach a full range of consumers throughout the globe. Additionally, many have acknowledged the internet for offering individuals a whole new way of accessing a wide variety of information as well as empowering them. The use of the internet to access information led to the adoption of another means of reasoning called technological determinism. And most scholars have claimed that it is a kind of force that can neither be stopped nor controlled (Yoo 2013 p.915; Pons-Novell & Viladecans-Marsal 2006 p.110).

The creation of the internet technology is attributed to Vinton Cerf in the early 1980s. The internet is one of the modern technologies that have a significant impact in supporting information sharing, doing businesses to gain huge profits through advertisement as well as promoting international cooperation among organizations and people (Mesch 2009, p.53). The internet technology is a communication medium that has profound societal development in the 21st century (Mesch 2009, p.51). Commentators have cited the internet to be a major form of diversion to a lot of people who need to pass the time and connects the influence of the society. Through the use of the internet, people have acquired general information such as news and weather updates without having to own a television. Thus, the internet has revolutionized information in the 21st-century societies throughout the world (Eisenstein 2002, p.87).

Conversely, the internet has influenced the cultural development since the early 1990s in several ways that affect the society either positively or negatively. The advancement of the internet technology has become part of the western culture which has led dialectic dynamic conflicting technological progress. In addition, the internet technology has resulted in the emergence of two groups; the conservative and the radical groups. The first group believe that this technology has the possible side effects; they are distressed over the dangers that the internet is quickly shortening the concentration extent of its users worldwide. Besides, crowds the cultural masterworks of common users, weakening the democracy as well as challenging the humanity (Alexander 2004, p.608). However, the other group believe that it can improve the human welfare, but have the fear that interest of the corporate world may undermine the development of internet unless the governments intercede (Kennedy 2016, p.78). These two groups have been battling over the years each side providing their opinion regarding the issue. The development of internet technology is a force that is sweeping through every aspect of human life, and it will be impossible for the states or any other organization to control it. From a socialist point of view, technological development is a multifaceted aspect blamed for the erosion of human culture in the 21st century. However, social determinism has influenced the development of internet technology from all sides of the coins.

In a nutshell, technological and social determinism have both influenced development of technology in the world particular the internet. But, the extent to which the internet has expanded in the last few decades have considerably affected the progress of the society by eroding culture. According to Moore’s law the development of the internet is following a particular trajectory and science that will make the whole system impossible to control bring to a stop. Observers have mentioned the internet to be a major form of diversion to a lot of people who need to pass the time and connects the influence of the society. Through the use of the internet, people have acquired general information such as news and weather updates without having to own a television. Technology does not only matter to the biological and physical ecosystem but also to the building of the human relationship in the society which is an important facet in building the trajectory for its advancement. Though, technological determinism has remained to be the central driving force to the development of the internet.

References

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November 17, 2022
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