Opinion: Is technology helping or hurting us?

May 27, 2012, By George Lang

Is technology helping or hurting our society? It certainly depends on who you ask. Much of what a secretary once had to do is now automated by mobile devices, office applications, and the operating systems that serve them.

This, of course, translates into lost secretarial jobs. From the perspective of labor unions, this is a horrendous injustice. According to corporate managers, there could be no better way to improve productivity.

Even critical data entry, which once was brought from the field by service personnel on paper and fed to computers by data entry specialists, can now be directly input by mobile devices to corporate servers, and automatically processed by their applications.

Field personnel are now able to report inventory items used on the job and the networking system will automatically remove them from just-in-time corporate databases. Warnings can be set at any level and forwarded directly to purchasing operators – and even bypassed directly to vendors over extranets for reordering – eliminating the need for purchasing personnel.

The same goes for financial and labor data; eliminating much of the monetary transaction book keeping and labor records reporting.

Nonetheless, metaphorically speaking, would society really want go back to the horse-drawn plow and hand-picked cotton when machinery and combines have mechanized the process?

There is no going back. Life has become complex, particularly when economists begin to weigh the very difficult challenges currently faced by worldwide financial and employment systems. It is time for system-wide innovation to not only address the industrial and technological advances themselves, but the irreversible consequences they have caused to our culture, society, and civilization in general. Device Magazine will be back with much more to offer on this topic in future articles. Stay tuned!

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