Thomas Hughes is a symbol of technological advancement in relation to evolving scientific facts, environment and social order. He was initially trained as an Engineer and showed that technology consists of systems and not merely artefacts. This systems embodies social aspects as well as technological aspects. This led to the social construction of the technological system. He offers a means to look at the relations that exists between the society, technological advancements and the environment.
Hughes looks at technology as a means by which changes in the society may be effected in relation to science, he also give room to the idea that the distribution of technology may not bring about a revolution in the social and science systems. A number of scholars have various expressed ideas towards the aspect of technological determinism in relation to technological system; Marx in 1994 supported the idea that technological determinism is the force that tends to drives history. The French scholar Jacques Ellul alludes that technology is the most powerful force in modern science and is beyond the control of humans.
Other scholars reject this fact and claim that the distribution of technology is determined by the social changes that are present in the society and not the vice versa. Hughes adapts a middle ground by looking at the technological systems in the society which may include complex networks of artifacts, organizations and the people rather than the science that brought about the technologies. (Marx, Smith, 1994). The modern world is as a result of technologies evolving over a period of time and in the process they grow more complex achieving a certain kind of interconnection.
This makes technology to be more difficult to control. (Cassidy, 1962). Hundreds and perhaps thousands of people are required to maintain the systems this brings out the aspect of society in technological distribution. Thomas Hughes therefore connects technology advancement to the presence of existing scientific knowledge and the presence of societal values that will maintain and advance the system. Ford claims that technology cannot be separated from the aspects of the environment; in this case he refers to the environment in terms of social, economic, political and cultural.
The existing systems will determine kind of policies that will be put in place in order to direct the pace of technology. The other side of the idea also relates to the advancement of the various aspects of life due to the pace of technological improvement. There is need to relate the various aspects of the human life with technology, It is as important as nation building and constitution making. These are important societal values that have a significant effect on advancing the human life. Technological affairs are a mixture of several aspects of life, which also includes social concerns.
The introduction of the e mail, facebook, twitter and other social sites is a technological advancement that has changed the way people relate with each other, it has brought people from across the world much closer and therefore a social concern whether it leans to a positive or a negative manner. The political concerns that have arisen due to technology cannot be ignored, In the United States, likely presidential candidates have used various advancements in technology to campaign, President Obama was able to appeal to a majority of the young voters as he was able to reach them on social sites through emails and short messages.
This brings out Taylor ideas on how technology is connected to societal values and political factors. The interaction of technology and other subjects does not stop there it affects economic policies and scientific laws. Insull states that the policies relating to economy have changed throughout the world as a result of Advancement of technology.
Apple Inc Company is a perfect example of this, its products such as the iphone has been well received in the market therefore building confidence in the trading of shares of Technological firms due to the interaction nature, the government therefore reduced tariff’s on technological firms due to the resources they were pumping into the economy and jobs they were creating (Cassidy, 1962). Hughes tends to bring out the relationship between technology, environment and the society through his advancement of the systems approach theory.
Hughes tends to argue that the production, transmission and distribution of electricity occur in a technological environment. This environment does not only relate to the technology but economic, educational, administrative and legal factors also contribute to the process. Hughes therefore advocates for unity among these factors as much as they may be diverse, he also calls for coherence from the chaos that may result from the interaction of this factors. The technological system may only survive if it can withstand influence from the external environment, the only way it can do this is through incorporating this influences into their system.
The systems theory advanced by Hughes above employs the notion of momentum which he defines as a combination of technological, organizational and attitudinal components this tends to maintain growth of the organizational system. Hughes also explains that the tendency to ensure that a technological system proceeds well when the actions of the numerous stakeholders such as educational, regulatory opportunities correspond with the work and culture of a particular technological system.
This is an important, aspect in ensuring that technology relates well with the environment and society to achieve maximum results (Hughes, 1989) The idea of systems theory can be summarized by Hughes’s approach which indicates that human managers control a variety of elements which should be geared towards exploitation of the existing social environment, the technological system should resist alteration once it has incorporated all aspects of the environment, society and environment.
The systems theory therefore shows that no technology should be treated in isolation as it is part of a bigger system. The relationship between technology and the environment can be understood by the changes that have occurred in the development of the bicycle, this was a technological milestone in the transport industry, however there was need to ensure that the bicycle created was safe for all individuals, this called for the collection and incorporation of the various views from the different social groups in order to come up with the required item.
In the 18th Century when the ox plough was being developed a number of social interests’s needed to be addressed in order for it to be socially acceptable. This shows the relationship that Hughes shows in the relationship between technology and social life (McDermott, 1991). Technological momentum is a key aspect that Hughes advocates for as opposed to determinism and social constructionism. This will tend to merge the two and therefore creates a process that recognizes the different aspects of the environment that will have an effect on it.
This involves giving due credit to socially shaped technologies as instruments of social change to achieve this historians are advised to go beyond determination of social roots of technologies to discussing the social effects of the technologies advocated for (Hughes, 1989). Oppenheimer has achieved a status whereby he highlights the need to consider the innovativeness that is associated with technology, as it creates a sustainable society.
People would not be more stable if they do things efficiently but a lot easier, this can only be achieved in the case of innovation. A number of historical occurrences prove the relationship between technology environment, social order and government. This tends to place things in the perspectives of Hughes, in agriculture the planning, construction and control of even the least of the technology controlled methods of irrigation would have involved some group effort and support from the government forces.
The draining of swamps especially in the early man’s time using technologies that are now considered outdated required social and political control to divert the water from the swamps (Misa, 1988). Thomas Hughes makes us think about technology and culture; he addresses the idea of technology as expressed through the history of the word. There is a tendency of too many people understanding the concept too reductively thus masking the real concept that is hidden there under.
Technology consists of acts rather than artifacts as expressed by the reductively thinking individuals; it’s constituted through the creative and critical thinking of people who want to make their life better through creation of new models. This is through technology and creation whereby America was transformed from the natural built environment to a human built environment. (Hughes, 1987). He attributes this to the long standing of Christian culture that gave meaning to the technology.
This shows the value that has been attached to the relationship between culture, environment and technology. Technology as a machine has been a major factor in the address of the relationship it assumes with other influences. There is need to chart a new line in the development of attitudes that relate to the advancement of technologies. The type of technologies recognized are systems of electricity, communication and mass production, the kind of enthusiasm that is associated with this technology has been great and need societal guidance in order to control.
The dangers to the environment that have arisen due to technology have also been examined this especially relates to the environment and limitation of its degradation. Stem cell research and cloning is an idea that best illustrates the need to ensure that relationships between science, technology and societal values are upheld. The technology behind cloning would have not been well received in the world if the aspect of ethics and societal values would not have been incorporated.
The technology involves altering the genetic make up of an organism in order to improve its qualities, this goes against the beliefs in a number of societies. Racheal expounds on the need to ensure that the aspects of technology fits into the existing structures of the society and not the other way round, this will create a harmonious co-existence between technology and society. Technology as systems, controls, and information is a theme has also been addressed in the process of achieving the relationship between technology, environment and the society.
This addresses the complexity that defined the engineering in America. Hughes tends to focus less on what the outsiders of the technological arena think about and concentrates more on the introduction of systems that will be more comprehensive. (Hughes, 1987). This is in the view of the emergence of counter cultural mechanisms that tends to control and regulate technological advancement. There is need for the development of ecotechnological environment that appreciates the different aspects of life in the world.
Hughes in his books has called for the redesign of system in order to protect the environment and return them to their original form (Hughes, 1989) . This shows the kind of appreciation he attaches to the environment in relation to technology. An example is the call to U. S Army Corps Engineers to reengineer the region back to its original state in order to increase the condition of the water. Hughes also recognizes Companies that are socially and environmentally responsible even in their pursuit for higher technological pursuits. Engineering relates to a larger cultural sphere.
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