Technology & Society – The Consequences

robot Technology has been both a boon and a curse throughout history, upsetting the apple cart of the established order with new opportunities for some and great losses for others. Consider the impact of the automobile, first on the horse and buggy industries, then on railroads. Television almost destroyed the movie business until the more creative people adapted. eBooks currently threaten longstanding bookstores and traditional publishers. The pace of technological advance has accelerated during the last half-century, challenging cultures, societies, and individuals to adapt to the new environment.
The benefits of technological advances are disproportionately enjoyed among the world’s communities, exaggerating the differences between those countries with stable, modern economies and those yet to develop. Even within a single economy, the benefits generally accrue to those who are better educated, more flexible, and less invested in the status quo.
In the past, technology primarily leveraged or expanded man’s physical and mental skills. The coming advances have the capability of replacing those skills, eliminating the need for man’s labor or direction. Simply stated, machines are capable of replacing much – if not most – of the jobs in our industrialized societies.
As the transfer occurs, how will cultures, economies, and political systems adapt? Will the future be the long-sought utopia, or the beginning of a cultural apocalypse, the societies depicted in science fiction novels such as “1984,” “The Hunger Games,” or “Soylent Green“?
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