The Effects of Technology on Society

During the last three sessions of our design theory class, we have been discussing articles that explore a few areas where technology and society intersect—specifically human experience, online privacy, and design in developing countries. We are then asked to create a framework of our own through which we view each reading. This gives us a process to synthesis the topics and create new ideas and opinions around the topics addressed.

When I considered all 8 authors theses, it was clear that they had different stances on technology. These stances varied from fearful of technology on one end to accepting of technology on the other. As a way to understand these readings better, I evaluated whether I believed each author’s stance was well-founded—that is, whether the effects of technology were actually bad if the author seemed fearful of technology or whether the effects of technology were good if the author was accepting of technology. This formed the 2×2 framework through which I viewed the reading. The following diagram resulted from this process:

As can be seen in my diagram, the upward progression of these authors into the right quadrant indicates that I believe most of the authors were well founded with their opinions. Nussbaum was the only real exception to this. She deems young people’s decisions to reveal their private lives online as a way of being transparent and allows for personal growth. I disagree. While this overexposure online can lead to “an archived adolescence” or “thicker skin”, not every person has that experience. Snap decisions to post inappropriate content cannot easily be removed from the internet. Just because “everyone” over-shares online, doesn’t automatically make that an acceptable or meaningful way to use technology. While everyone makes mistakes, employers will use any information about misjudgments as a way to cross you off their potential hire list. Relationships are ruined through the uncovering of information of past lovers or scandalous activity. Trust can be lost and not easily regained. The list goes on. So while Nussbaum is the most accepting of technology, I don’t believe her stance is a good thing.

As far as where I fall on this spectrum, I believe I am somewhere between Prahalad and Nussbaum. I am very accepting of technology in my life. I constantly have my face buried in my phone and browse Reddit whenever I have a free moment. However, after synthesizing the messages in these readings, I have a more grounded outlook on the role technology plays in society. Overall, I think technology has the potential to be used for great good, but often times technology creates more problems than it solves. It is up to us as designers to realize that the benefits and drawbacks of technology should be carefully considered before we deem it as the best medium for design implementation.