Technological Determinism?

Technological Determinism?
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Joseph Alois Schumpter, the Austrian master of economics and political economy, coined and popularized the term, “creative destruction”. Schumpeter held that, “capitalism could only be understood as an evolutionary process of continuous innovation and creative destruction”. According to Schumpeter, “the gale of creative destruction describes the process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_destruction). While the genesis of capitalism and its subsequent development can be traced to the Industrial Revolution, but over time, such has been the speed, scope and intensity of capitalism development and the change in industrial structures, conditions, processes, methods and products that the whole saga amounts to a revolution. The effects can be felt not only in industry and commerce but also in all domains of life, many of which stand altered. The Post Office synonymous with the once ubiquitous post man, for instance, is a shadow of its former self. It has been almost entirely replaced by communications technology whose rate of obsolescence takes place at a dizzying rate as well. Information Communication Technology (ICT’s) is so woven and embedded into quotidian lives of people that it is now almost impossible to conceive of life without these technologies. The trend is only set to grow and deepen with the advent of Artificial Intelligence(AI). These developments and trends will, gradually and inexorably, pose multiple challenges to societies, nations and states and all will have to adapt in ways that maximize benefits and minimize issues, problems and downsides. The portrait painted here would suggest that all is hunky and dory and technology and developments thereof are concomitants to and of progress. But, there are flip sides too. The spread of technology is uneven and the pioneers and flag bearers of technology continue to be developed societies. The “digital divide” alluded to here must give way to “democratization of technology” and lesser developed countries must also take it upon themselves to be at the forefront of technological and technical innovation. All in all, technology has salubrious benefits and payoffs but what must be borne in mind is that we should neither be victims of technological determinism nor should we allow technology to run the roost and determine human affairs. And, the “good” and “bad” of technology must be balanced. This can perhaps only happen when technology remains at the behest and for the benefit of mankind and not the obverse.

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