Three Unhelpful Views about Technology
Some Countervailing Considerations
How Society Reacts to Technological Change
Our challenge is to profit from the opportunities opened up by technology and to contain its dangers.
Existing social structures often get in the way of taking advantage of advances in technology.
Government and education have not made the public aware of the potential benefits of technologies such as urban policy techniques.
Containing the Negative Effects of Technology
Private individuals and large corporations who develop new technologies because of their perceived benefits otfen do not think about benefits or harms that may affect many people in sociey. Many negative consequences of technology are due to the fact that particular technologies are developed by individuals (or individual corporations) for particular purposes without attention to the effect of their decisions on society as a whole.
The rights of individual decision-makers which have been traditionally politically protected may be the source of the problem. Technologies may be out of control to the extent that human institutions are not adequately controlling them.
Thus, there is tension betwen the need to control technology and values of market freedom, private enterprise, scientific freedom, and individual autonomy. This tension makes it difficult to use social organizations to control the opportunities and the problems of technology.
Technology's Challenge to Values
Social planning reveals conflicts in values. Economic values of leisure conflict with increase in productivity. Education values of equality conflic with values of achievement (merit).
Social planning (based upon knowledge) and changing technology confronts traditional values and requires that they change (accommodate themselves).
Technology as a Cause of Value Change
Technology can change values by --
The Value Implications of Economic Change
Private profit motives cannot meet the expectations of society for public goods. Increased government intervention is required in social and economic affairs. This conflicts with a value system which has been primarily individualistic rather than collective or "societal." In order words, control of widespread consequences of technologies must be on a social or governmental level.
Religion and Values
Q: How does traditional religion conflict with new values effected by
Q. According to Harvey Cox, why has traditional religion been unable to cope with new values?
According to Cox, there are three inconsistent traditions in religion:
Individual Man in a Technological Age
The impact of technology on the individual has both positive and negative
sides. The balance sheet might look something like this:
|Pressure on the individual to conform or adjust. [Loss of individuality]||Economic productivity, education, and modern means of communication have helped the individual to develop his individual potential. People feel like individuals more than ever before.|
|Decline in personal privacy with sophisticated eavedropping and surveillance devices.||Privacy was not always a good thing, especially if it meant one died alone. Social security, public education, and public health measures would not be given up for privacy.|
|Increasing power of government.||Government is more lacking in confidence than ever before.|
According to Professor Shils, technological change has implications for the balance that individuals find between individual or private goals and responsibilities as a public citizen. The political requirements of a modern technological society seem to call for more emphasis on public responsibility.
ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL ORGANIZATION
The Enlarged Scope of Public Decision Making
The political "encompasses all of the decision-making structures and procedures that have to do with the allocation and distribution of wealth and power in society."
A society that fosters great advances in technology has to accept that it will have to "enlarge the scope of public decision-making," probably because --
Private Firms and Public Goods
Corporations play a key role in developing technology. According to Galbraith, corporations and market forces are better at providing for and creating private wants than they are at satisfying public needs. Technological change seems to require a shift of emphasis from corporation to government.
The Promise and Problems of Scientific Decision Making
More and more emphasis is being put on technical processes of decision-making by using sophisticated computer and statistical technologies. This seems to put more and more administrative control in the hands of technical experts. However, this cause difficulties for tradiitonal values of popular and participatory democracy. Scientific management of the opportunities and problems arising from technology has both positive and negative consequences.
The Need for Institutional Innovation
We need new institutions and social structures to deal with the management of the opportunities and problems of technology. These would call for a collaboration of government, corporations, and social organizations.
Q: How are new social structures needed to solve the problems of the ghetto, according to Mesthe?