Volume 18, Issue 3, Fall 2014
Technology and the Limites of the Information Age circa 2002
This essay examines three competing views of technological change, developed at the beginning of the millennium, and their impact on our lives. The discussion will lead to three conclusions. First, we must be involved in decisions about how technology is regulated and used. Second, we should be wary not to consider all technologies as having the same effects. The cell phone is neither the personal computer nor the television, and there is no reason to consider each as having the same potential social consequences. Third, new methodologies must be developed to account for any changes in social relations that come about as a result of our adoption of these technologies. In the final section of the essay, the consequences of contemporary technologies on what it means to be human are briefly discussed. Rather than substitute technology for democracy or big data for the ability to find significant information, we must take democratic control of these technologies and affirm our humanity. Indeed, I argue along with noted commentators on technology that what makes us human is our ability to sort and find relevant information, reflect on our actions and take risks in associating with other humans. These are things that we must always bear in mind if we are to flourish in the information age.