Social Dimensions of Technology


Throughout history, technology has been a powerful force in the development of human society. Technological waves often have an indelible impact on industry, culture, and medicine.

While technological waves can be extremely beneficial, the consequences of new technologies can be devastating. New technologies can also produce forces of change that originate in unexpected places.

Technology is a social enterprise that entails people and machines. In addition to designing, building, and operating new technologies, people must also have the knowledge and resources needed to repair and maintain them. In order to effectively implement and maintain new technology, the process should be influenced by people with diverse expertise.

As a result, the social dimensions of technology are an ever-growing part of the puzzle. Technologists point to governments as a key player in addressing technological problems. But governments often lack the resources and incentives to engage in social issues.

Private-public partnerships have emerged in areas such as transportation, energy, and medical technology. These partnerships complicate the traditional picture of the public and private sectors.

Technologists also point to the need for government to regulate the use of new technologies. For example, some countries are only just beginning to regulate the use of computer technologies. Others are in the process of rethinking rules governing technology exchange across borders.

In addition to regulatory issues, technologists should consider the consequences of individual decisions on the large-scale use of technology. Even small changes can have large-scale consequences.