Technological solutions have impacted every aspect of society from the dawn of civilization. Some of these impacts have been beneficial, and others not so much. Technology has been a catalyst for social progress and globalization, making it easier for businesses to operate globally, and allowing people from different nations to connect with each other.
On the other hand, technologies have caused unemployment and contributed to environmental degradation. This includes the depletion of resources, the escalation of pollution levels (including greenhouse gases and solid waste), and the loss of biodiversity. Increasingly, many polities have concluded that the detriments of certain technologies outweigh their benefits, leading to directed technological phase-outs such as the fossil fuel and nuclear power phases-out.
This is a complex topic, as there are many factors that influence the impact of technology on society. For example, the type of technology used may have an effect on what sort of social changes are triggered. As such, it is important for engineers to be able to consider both the intended and unintended consequences of their designs. In addition, it is important for end-users to balance their use of technological systems with old-fashioned techniques for getting things done in a healthy, productive manner. For all of these reasons, tech and society is a vital subject for anyone interested in the world around them. Luckily, our courses at the iSchool offer students the opportunity to learn about this fascinating area of study.