Information technology by definition is an academic and technical discipline that deals with the purposeful creation and application of apparatus, equipment, resources and processes that aid in solving problems faced by humans in a sophisticated and practical way. It encompasses the development, installation, implementation, maintenance and use of computer based systems to organize and manage elementary aspects of modern living. This discipline has undergone tremendous development in the modern era, with almost all aspects of human life and daily activities governed by some form of technology (Tansey 54). This fact in itself explains the issue of over dependence, which implies that people strongly rely on information technology in all areas of their lives. The advent of mobile technology, telecommunications, internet, e-learning and e-commerce are an excellent example. My goal in this paper is to discuss why I agree that the current trend that strongly describes modern society’s over dependence on information technology makes more likely the occurrence of economic and social disasters. Before expounding on this belief, let us first highlight the benefits of information technology in society.
Technology has generally improved standards of living and made life more luxurious, with its incorporation in areas such as business, education, entertainment, transport and industries. Internet access has enabled businesses to venture into online advertising, a crucial marketing strategy, as well as online business ventures. Information technology has enabled businesses to be open all through the day and night, also in separate locations. This has led to better productivity and consumer oriented services that eventually favor business growth and expansion. Information technology has also led to the creation of new jobs in terms of web designers, computer programmers, system analyzers and program developers. It has streamlined businesses to be extremely cost effective money-making machines. This increases productivity and ultimately gives rise to profits. Information technology has also placed strategic importance on areas such as the banking, industry, education, communications, commerce, tourism and transport. In the rapidly developing world, emphasis is placed on advanced mechanisms of acquiring knowledge and services. Computers currently play an active role in education, both as a research tool, teaching method and in e-learning modules (Khosrowpour 72). Trade and economic transactions are now made through the internet via e-commerce, and with the advent of smart homes and smart businesses. Technology has provided people with a faster means of transport via aircrafts which are technology powered. Communication is now faster, cheaper, instantaneous and more efficient, what with the advent of mobile phones and the more advanced video teleconferencing.
The most significant advantage of Information technology by far is globalization. Modern world can now enjoy the advantages of internationalization, in areas such as trade, education, entertainment and socialization. This has enabled networking among nations, creating diversity and civilization. Economies that major in technological advancements have also been fortified. Information technology has linked the world together, creating a single interdependent system. It has brought down geographical and linguistic barriers, and helped in bridging the cultural gap.
Despite all these benefits of information technology, modern trends indicate potential danger of creating economic and social vulnerability. The word disaster means an unexpected overwhelming and unanticipated event that disrupts the functioning of society, in this case in terms of economy and social welfare. Take for example, a breakdown in information technology leading to a loss of electricity. This would signify that the economy and some aspects of society will come to a standstill (Targowski 69). This explains modern world’s over dependence on information technology that leaves no room for back up creative ideas to counteract a failure in technology. Information technology has thus created a lazy society, with man being overly dependent on it. People have more luxury and do not engage in physical activity, a fact that is detrimental to social well being and health, therefore poses the danger of social disasters. Over exposure and addiction to the internet also creates the danger of immorality. Internet access has sprouted many social and unethical practices e.g. computer espionage, hacking, pornography and addiction. These practices make more likely the occurrence of future social disasters (Targowski 78).
Integration of IT in business poses serious threats in terms of creating unemployment. Overdependence on IT will create job redundancies, downsizing and outsourcing. The use of robots and machines relegates the basic role of man to the backseat. This has the potential of creating loss of jobs as well as intelligence, since people rely on machines to do their work instead of thoughtful creativity. Ultimately, this will give birth to an economy that heavily relies on machinery and technology instead of manpower. As artificial intelligence and robots develop further, many skilled jobs face potential threat. This may as a consequence lead to considerable redundancy at all proficiency levels, a fall in wages for the majority of workers, and augmented concentration of wealth and income as capital owners dominate a large percentage of the economy. This eventually could lead to low consumer expenditure and economic expansion as the majority of the population lack adequate unrestricted income to acquire products and services. The constantly changing technologies signify that businesses will in future suffer expenses such as start up costs, implementation and training costs, since advanced programs require formal instruction by an expert consultant. IT also poses the threat of loss of job security, since technology is dynamic and requires the workers to constantly upgrade their knowledge so as to keep up with changing business dynamics. Lack of job security can create work hazards which are detrimental to the economy (Smith 70).
Information Technology takes the culpability for both the centralization and the decentralization of the economy as a whole. New technology will create large industrial corporations that concentrate the economy under their dominance. Companies that make use of the newest technology in their business practices are those that tend to dominate the economic landscape. This can create destructive competition. Also, the affirmative effects of a new technology in an economy can be exaggerated, creating the necessity of a market correction secondary to an imminent economic disaster.
Information technology systems are susceptible to security violations, especially when they are available by means of the Internet. With lack of proper measures and precautions, unauthorized persons may access private information and records. Information may be tampered with, destroyed or utilized for unpleasant purposes. This has the potential of ruining business plans and economic transactions among business partners. It can lead to loss of money e.g. in internet based banking. The problem of fraud can lead to both social and economic disasters, as it encourages fraudsters who can steal lots of money from financial institutions via the internet (Smith 34).
The use of technology manipulates societal values, by altering expectations and realities. This inhibits social progress and thus is a possible source of social disasters. In the business social world, it has exposed a majority of workers to great mental pressure and anxiety due to performance driven robotic expectations. With the advent of mobile technology, communication based on effective and detailed letter writing and face to face dialogues is on its way to extinction. Social networks have also compounded this problem by bridging the necessity of face to face communication. A major percentage of young people utilize a lot of their time on the social networks. This is a potential source of social disasters, as it encourages laziness and lack of effective direct human interactions. Internet access encourages immorality which is an imminent social disaster. Information technology has also led to poor financial management, as the current trend is getting the latest high tech gadgets, a good example being the iPhone and other flashy technological gadgets. This is a worrisome trend as it means more expense in terms of finances in acquisition of these technologies than on basic necessities or savings. This trend has also created social classes in terms of who owns the latest technology, an imminent source of social vulnerability (Khosrowpour 62).
By creating globalization, IT has caused the problem of the dominant culture. It is now evident that through technology driven media services, many developing countries ape the cultures of the developed countries. A good example is the current trend for most countries look up to the United States in terms of lifestyle. Loss of intrinsic culture and values is an imminent source of social disaster, due to lack of regulatory mechanisms governing values and norms of the society. The many disadvantages of globalizing national governments, economies, and sovereignty are a source of economic vulnerability. Globalization can in result be a global disaster. A globalized market functions on a delicate balance (Schwalbe 98). When the economy of one country suffers, for example the economy of the United States, rest of the world also suffers to a degree. Also, the outsourcing of labor in modern globalization via internet based business ventures causes a country’s labor strength and ultimately purchasing power to be reduced. This poses the economic threat of reduced internal labour strength and the possibility of large multi corporations that utilize automated technology putting out small enterprises.
In conclusion, Information technology has played a significant role in the advancement of modern society. It has brought luxury to life, increased access to knowledge, provided a platform for communication and globalization and indispensably made life easier. However, its heavy incorporation into everyday life poses the strategic risk of imminent social and economic disasters. Expert advice need be incorporated to look into and explore possible mechanisms of alleviating the risks of these disasters, and ways of mitigation.