The Technology Effect

Technology the wide concept of knowing and using everything, such as tools and crafts, (Woodward, 2013) has been known for a long time. Recently people have started to argue about its bad and good effect. This essay will discuss that, depending on technology proponents and opponents’ arguments.

Mankind has begun to use many different kinds of technology innovation, since the stone use, two million years ago, until the car invention more than hundred years. (Marx, 1997) They looked at it in a positive way as a sign of social progress until about the last seventy five years, when few Americans have started to see the new technology in a negative way. (Marx, 1987)

This thought change may have accrued synchronizing with the huge social change that has come with the new technology, and has been viewed as a sign of serious technology effect. That effect is considered as two sides come together, one is useful for the humanity, and the other is harmful. (Mesthene, 1967) McDermott has argued that technology should have a positive effect only, but because those who are stood behind its invention are not aware enough of the society, it has the negative face. (Cowan, 2010)

The misuse of technology which was the cause of two world war, the biological weapons, environment harmfulness, and many other negative things have led some people to rethink about technology and look at it in a skeptical way. (Marx, 1987) Some scientists have said that some innovations that were used at first for military purposes were adapted for a civilian use such as internet can be a positive and a sign of social progress. (Cowan, 2010) This seems to be true, because many innovations were invented at the beginning for military purposes, such as Internet, Radar, GPS, and digital photography, were adapted for civilian uses, such as communication, microwave, navigation, and digital camera.

Regardless of the debate about the positive or negative technology effects, some scientists argue that technology use has given mankind superiority over the animal, because it has assisted them to control their environment, and change their way of life continuously. (Dupree, 1969) It has been said that the technological inventions may be the most important power in humanity life. (Marx, 1997) This point considerably noticeable and could support effectively the positive thought toward technology.

However, this complicated argument does not change either party that much, because each side seems to defend his idea blindly as McDermott (1967) says, technology is the opiate of the intellectuals. Cowan (2010) responded to that, saying, McDermott’s argument does not rely on technological evidence, but it is almost ideological. Above all, would audiences accept such argument or ignore it? Cowan (2010) mentioned that her students who are surrounded by technological life will neither eliminate their cars, nor the rest of their technological things for incorrect ideological argument.

This Argument may be more effective and acceptable, if it is deprived of ideology, and relies on facts and logical evidences. (Cowan, 2010) Knowing humanity’s needs of technology is an important issue that may help to decide if it is useful or harmful. Finding a main criterion to measure the technology effect if it is good or bad, such as those were mentioned by Marx (1987) to answer his question, if improved technology means progress or not, focusing on three main issues for measurement, efficiencies, cost, and trouble elimination.

Fahd Alghofaili


Cowan, R. S. (2010) Looking Back in Order to Move Forward: John McDermott, “Technology: The Opiate of the Intellectuals”. Technology and Culture, 51 (1): 199-215

Dupree, A. H. (1969) Comment: The Role of Technology in Society and the Need for Historical Perspective. Technology and Culture, 10 (4): 528-534

Marx, L. (1987) Does improved technology mean progress? Technology Review, [volume and part number not found]: 33-44

Marx, L. (1997) “Technology”: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept. Social Research, 64 (3): 965-988

McDermott, J. (1969) A Special Supplement: Technology: The Opiate of the Intellectuals. New York Review of Books, 31st July 1969 [page not known]

McDermott, J. F. M. (2012) To the Editor. Technology and Culture, 53 (2): 525-529

Mesthene, E. G. (1969) Some General Implication of the Research of the Harvard University Program on Technology and Society. Technology and Culture, 10 (4) 489-513

Woodward, R. and Williams, C. (2013) Academic Skills Guide B1 atom EAP1 . Birmingham: Presessional Programme, EISU, the University of Birmingham. 120-121