The Development Of IT And Society
IT stands for ‘Information Technology’. Those two words, according to Harvard Business Review, were first used in an article published in 1958 by Harold J. Leavitt and Thomas L.Whisler. Words, which were used became now widespread around the world. Mainly because IT is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing industry. To support this statement, we can take a look at the most significant developments in IT in the last 50 years.IT is the use of computers to store, process, manipulate, create, secure and retrieve data or information of any type. It is considered to be a part of ICT – information and communications technology. So it all started with computers.
The first ever general purpose computer was built more than 50 years ago (ENIAC – 1946), but it’s worth mentioning that it filled a 50 – foot long basement room and weighed 30 tons. Today I took a computer with me in a shoulder bag. And I guess that you have one in your pocket. Computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones. We can’t imagine our personal or professional lives without them. Barcodes – The first retail product sold using a barcode scanner was a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum in 1974. A barcode scan is fast and error-free and it’s not just the grocery shopping we need it for. It is a user – friendly and inexpensive tool that can help any company to be more efficient. Internet – From Cold War defensive measure through research and educational network to the internet we know today (first ideas in 1962, www invented by Tim Berners-Lee from CERN in 1989, internet fully commercialized by 1995). It has come a long way but it’s a technology used by over half of the world’s population. And that is impressive. Its advantages – communication and information sharing.
Email, video conferencing, chat rooms, e-commerce, learning, banking, and so on… All available to us just because of the Internet. Social media – Facebook started in 2004 and then….YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flickr, Meetup, Snapchat, etc.
There are over 3 billion social media users around the world. And the number continues to grow. Social networks give us than a great opportunity to connect not just with friends and family but also with potential customers. Robotics – Robot comes from the Czech word ‘robota’ which means ‘forced work or labor’. Most robots today are used for repetitive actions or dangerous jobs. We have robotic manufacturing, medical robotics, we use them in agriculture, military and even in space. VR (virtual reality) and drones – they aren’t just for the gaming industry. Amazon is working on a drone delivery system, in Africa, they are used to deliver medical supplies. In the fitness industry, VR can make people feel more motivated to work out. We can say that IT transformed many industries – agriculture, healthcare, retail, transportation, energy, manufacturing, etc. But to fully understand how IT can help manage and develop our businesses, we should examine how IT has changed society in terms of living, working and socializing. 1.2Many businesses are using the effect of IT on society in their favor. We can read in a book Computers, Phones, and the Internet: Domesticating Information Technology, that TV broadcasters understand the ability of television to ‘kill’ time or ‘steal’ time from activities that its users actually prefer doing. Knowing that viewers will typically (and maybe not deliberately) continue watching their channel, they broadcast unproven shows after highly popular ones. But research shows that Internet use is replacing television viewing. And how the Internet affects our lives?
First, we can take a look at the image number 1.It shows daily Internet activities of U.S. adults on a randomly selected day. Results are from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. We can see that the most popular activity is Email. Internet greatly helps users to stay in contact with friends and family members in ways that were not possible before. As well, it helps to preserve old friendships after moving away (high school friendships, for example, after moving to college). There are concerns, though, that Internet usage and the ability to communicate through chat rooms, social media, Email, and SMS actually takes people away from face-to-face interactions, causing a dehumanization. On the other hand, someone can claim that interacting with strangers online improves real-life relationships because it transforms a naturally shy person into a confident and outgoing one. Or that online communities created by groups of people sharing same interests have a positive effect. Socializing online refers especially to teenagers. And here I have to point out one of the IT issues in society and that is a cyberbullying. It can lead to low self-esteem, self-harm, and even suicides. But apart from social media sites, teenagers like surfing the web for fun, listening and downloading music and learning. IT has dramatically changed the teaching and learning process. Students can find an enormous amount of knowledge on the Internet and they can take various online courses. Those online courses are accessible to anyone and they can help improve performance at work, at school, or just sate one’s curiosity.
According to the Pew Internet Project, lots of Internet users go online for healthcare information. As a result, patients usually spend only 10 to 15 minutes with a general practitioner because they come to an appointment already well-informed and knowing what questions they would like to ask. We can say that online healthcare information is changing the way how people interact with the health care system.
I already stated that IT transformed many industries but those transformations changed the way people work. 50 years ago, jobs for men usually involved physical work. Technology helped to produce more sedentary and mental work. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to sit in the office from 9 to 5. Nowadays, we can work from anywhere, even from the comfort of our homes. We just need to turn on a computer.
Automation is reducing human intervention to a minimum. UNIMATE was the first industrial robot designed by George Devol in 1954 and was installed by General Motors in its automotive plant in 1962. Modern industrial robots are becoming more versatile. Cobots – collaborative robots – can work alongside humans. Amazon started to engage them in 2012.Without cobots, an Amazon warehouse worker would have to walk between 7 to 15 miles per shift.
A spokesman for the company said in 2015: ”We like to think of it as a symphony of software, machine learning, computer algorithms, and people.” Construction Robotics, for example, has developed a bricklaying cobot called the Sam100, which can lay around 2000 bricks a day, while working collaboratively with masons and reducing lifting by 80%. That’s an example of IT reducing a physical labor. The computer even made it possible for artisans to express themselves more than ever before. For instance, using CAD – computer-aided design software- in the jewelry industry helps jewelers create pieces they couldn’t create by hand before.
At the end of this presentation, as an explanation of the impact on individuals of living in the information age, we can imagine a family living 50 years ago. Mother is reading a book which she borrowed from the library while cooking a dinner from her mother’s cookbook. Father is reading a DIY magazine and their teenage daughter is outside playing with her friends. And now imagine the 21st-century family. Mother is reading a Kindle while cooking from bbcgoodfood.com. Father is on his phone checking reviews of a drill he would like to buy online. And their teenage daughter is posting images of herself on Instagram because she has a new haircut.
Every day, more and more people use the Internet to engage in and with society. Wi-Fi, smartphones, and social media made this very simple and common. Consequently, a good digital citizenship, in other words, digital etiquette, is more important and significant than ever before. It teaches us how we should act when we are online, how to use technology appropriately, responsibly and legally. It reminds us that while communicating with others we should behave morally, treat them the way we want to be treated and report any unethical behaviors such as cyberbullying, abuse or harassment which increased with the use of digital devices. Other negative impacts of being online are a distraction from other important tasks, Internet and gaming addictions, false information, and privacy and security risks.
Being aware of the fact that everything we say or show online leaves a digital footprint saves us from possible negative and long-term consequences. Aside from all negative impacts of the digital citizenship, there are numerous positive ones.
We can interact with anyone and anywhere, we can express ourselves, share ideas, learn from others or teach them, get news instantly, make payments easily and quickly, advertise ourselves or our company, etc.
There are, unfortunately, issues in society relating to personal data. The Internet creators and early users in 1990s saw the Internet as a space of freedom with no limits and restrictions. Place where people from all nations can collaborate together. But governments started to define the Internet as a regulated space. Mainly because with an online anonymity came a computer crime. One tool assisting to authorities in fighting crimes like gangsterism, pedophilia or terrorism is Data analytics.
With new technology and algorithms, large databases of personal data can be stored and analyzed. This Big data computing can find patterns in a human mind, can predict a user behavior and it has expanded rapidly. A concern about the Big data started with a discovery by Cambridge researcher Joseph Bonneau that Facebook and six other sites kept users ‘deleted’ data. We don’t know what data are collected by who and for what reason. To tackle this issue EU came this year with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) which gives users control over their personal data. But another issue about the Big data is that we don’t know how exactly algorithms are working. ‘How Google’s search algorithm decides what to place at the top of its result list is understood by only a small handful of people – and yet it determines what information 90 percent of Europe’s internet users find.’ Sadly, with storing of important information, for example, users credit card details, comes security risks. We can see major data breach on many companies, for instance, Ticketmaster’s incident from this year affected up to 40 000 customers, British Airways’s hack compromised data of about 380 000 people. And a 2017 cyber-attack on a credit rating company Equifax exposed personal information of 146 million people around the world.
With digital rights come responsibilities.IT affects issues regarding intellectual property, censorship, freedom of expression, privacy, and security. Information technology law, or cyberlaw, is the area of law that relates to those issues.
A very common legal problem in IT is a copyright infringement, aka piracy. Copyrights are exclusive rights granted to creators of an original work. This work can’t be copied, modified, published or distributed without an author’s permission.
Intellectual property is something that can be easily forgotten online. But it’s a costly mistake. There is a well-known case of Joel Tenenbaum who was fined $675 000 for illegally downloading and sharing music. Apart from music, copyrighted material can be anything from books, paintings, photographs, performances, films, and even computer programs. A basic term of the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus fifty to seventy years. Some people argue, though, that waiting so long for recreating the existing work makes it harder for them to be creative. Another legal and ethical issue in IT is privacy, especially the way organizations handle customers personal data. There are big advantages to storing and analyzing those pieces of information. Companies can serve their customers better, manage their businesses more efficiently, take good decisions in a new product development, etc. But negative impacts come with a possible security breach.
From May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), gives EU citizens more control over their personal information. In the UK, the government has created a new Data Protection Act 2018 which replaces the one from 1998. The GDPR affects every member state but also companies outside of EU which handle data relating to EU citizens. It is important to comply with the regulation since companies which fail to do so can be fined.
Cybersecurity is important. After every personal data leak, affected customers have to be notified. That can damage a people’s trust in the company. The ISO /IEC 27000 family of standards can help organizations keep information assets secure.
Unethical behavior of a company can attract media attention, and it can have a negative impact on its reputation. Reputation and trust are today as important as products and services. IT ethics can prevent many legal issues. It can help preserve a people’s trust in digital services. But sometimes what is considered legal doesn’t need to be ethical. For example, Google’s tracking of searches followed by personalized advertisements. It’s legal, but someone might find it unethical regarding their privacy. Ethics is a system of moral principles. It can be challenging for companies to follow these principles at the individual level. If the company will establish a set of shared values, beliefs, and norms, it can influence individuals to act ethically. Those standards are called IT codes of ethics, and many of them are already produced and used all around the world. For instance, SANS IT Code of Ethics, IEEE Code of Ethics, Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics, and many more.
We can see that even large and well-known companies have legal and ethical issues in IT. Facebook’s large data collections of their user’s personal data attract hackers. Just recently, on 28th September 2018, they announced a massive security breach which put at least 50 million user’s data at risk.
The breach came after the so-called Facebook – Cambridge Analytica data scandal.It started with an application build by a Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan. His company GSR with Cambridge Analytica, collected data of hundreds of thousands users who agreed to take a personality test through the application. Users agreed to have their data collected for academic reasons but data from their Facebook’s friends were harvested without anyone’s consent. Facebook later admitted that data from 87 million users were collected. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, publicly apologized and had to testify before US Congress. The Company faces fine of £500 000 by Britain’s information regulator. Accusations that harvested data were used to psychologically profile voters during the 2016 US election and the EU referendum caused great concerns about the personal data usage.
Cite this Essay
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below