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Technology is not an image of the world but a way of operating on reality. The nihilism of technology lies not only in the fact that it is the most perfect expression of the will to power but also in the fact that it lacks meaning. (Octavio Paz) Technology is the general term for the processes by which human beings create tools and machines to increase their control and understanding of the material environment. It is perhaps best understood in a historical context that traces the evolution of early humans from a period of very simple tools to the complex, large-scale networks that influence much of our modern-day life. For the past couple of decades, it has been unclear, whether technology is a positive movement or a path to self-destruction. The debate has led strong arguments from both sides, but the one thing that they both agree on is that technology involves a huge risk. However, the movement toward a technological workplace has been undoubtedly in the works for a long time and no matter what the critics say it will still continue to grow exponentially each year.
As the world stumbles toward the twenty-first century, a shadow looms over the planet, a dawn of a new revolution: a revolution of work. Just as human history was forced to cope with the transformations that came with the rise of the Industrial Revolution, we now must deal with the end of that Revolution and the beginning of another.
Although this technological revolution in the business world has been the subject of immense media hype and scrutiny in the past few years, it has occurred slowly but surely over the past few decades. The revolution reaches as far back as the invention of the telegraph in the 1850s. The invention of the telephone, fax machine, and more recent developments in wireless communication have offered businesses more flexibility and efficiency, and those willing to embrace these new technologies have found that they are more likely to survive and prosper than fade away as fads. As a result, employers persistently push for technological advancements regardless of the risks.
Rumors about computers taking over people s jobs run rampant through today s high-speed network of communication. The fear of losing one s job to a hard-cased metallic box is beyond anyone s understanding. However strong of a possibility it may be, the technology age is far from it. As Nobel Peace Laureate Arno Penzias, chief scientist at Lucent Bell Labs, said I can’t say anything is totally impossible–of a computer, no matter how powerful, replacing a human being. Human beings just do too many different things. Technology still requires human interaction. For example, at a super-market, if the clerk scans a product over the bar code reader and the reader is unable to read the product correctly, the clerk must manually enter the number into the register. Arno goes on to reiterate that Technology is a tool and it can make us whatever we are already, only more so. Today s technology is in no state to replace humans, but rather is in a state requiring integration of human intuition and machine logic.
The result is today’s heavily technological workplace, where proficiency with complex phone systems, fax machines, and networked computers is essential. These machines tend not only to liberate but also enslave the common worker. Critics argue that technology can be a positive influence, but with the current situation in which new technology grows each day, it is making more of a negative impact and generating additional hardship for the worker. A report by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) warns that one out of every 10 jobs requiring information technology skills is going unfilled due to a shortage of qualified workers. Critics claim that workers are unable to keep up with the speed at which technology is being unveiled and that employers are blinded by the infinite possibilities that technology promises. It’s like running out of iron ore in the middle of the Industrial Revolution,” says the association’s (ITAA) president. A study says that an estimated 60% of new jobs in the year 2000 will require skills possessed by only 22% of new workers, thus requiring U.S. companies to send more of their work overseas where they can find eligible job candidates. Technology is a positive movement; however, it plays a key role in many cases of unemployment.
As the rate of technological development quickens, those who do not work with these advancements on a day-to-day basis can become detached from the modern industry and consumer demands, thus becoming far less useful to a company. For example, a young employee at a bank in the past could become increasingly useful and valuable to his company as he aged, since his knowledge would be cumulative of all that he had experienced, since the industry would probably not undergo drastic changes in fifty years. Today, however, a 50-year-old manager of a computer firm would have started his career when punch cards were used to collect and store data in programs. For him to keep up with the astounding changes in the computer industry over the past 30 years would be a commendable achievement by itself, let alone running a company at the same time. However, despite the prosperity that technology may bring, the current trend of hardships in a technological workplace has deterred many young workers. A (ITAA) survey showed that 2,000 large and mid-sized companies found at least 190,000 unfilled information technology (IT) jobs. The report cited a decline in college graduates with degrees in mathematics or computer science. Currently, With the median age at 40 and climbing, middle-aged and older workers will be the cores of tomorrow’s workforce (while younger workers will be scarce) To compete for the best workers, businesses will offer expanded employee benefits and flex scheduling to accommodate the needs of diverse ages and lifestyles. These benefits that businesses promise to accommodate their workers with are beginning to appeal more and more in the eyes of younger workers and college grads. According to a study by Newsweek, traces of technological growth are already evident. The top three fastest growing and top paying jobs involve or directly use technology; Database manager at 11.8%, Computer engineer at 10.9%, and System s Analyst at 10.3%.
The introduction of technology into the workplace sometimes poses difficult challenges for supervisors, and often the manager-employee relationship. Although a worker’s access to a phone or computer may theoretically increase his or her productivity, it also introduces new temptations for distraction and wasted time. In addition, employees become more isolated and their relationships with co-workers deteriorate. Client contacts can frequently be handled over the phone or by other electronic means, and although this usually proves more efficient and cost-effective than traditional person-to-person contact, it also results in a depersonalization of this relationship. Technological advancements also sometimes lead to divisions within a company between management and its employees. Management must decide to give workers the freedom associated with many of these technologies and construct a plan for monitoring employees use of these technologies, while keeping in mind that overbearing supervision leads to worker dissatisfaction and distrust of managers. In general, the relationships between individuals of any level of a company tend to suffer with the introduction of new technological methods.
In summary, technology has changed our workplaces enormously. It has not only opened up opportunities, but has also changed the very nature of work. In the transformation from an agricultural to an industrial based economy the world has redefined work. Labor meant the men, women, and children in factories. However, those jobs are no longer there. The majority of people are no longer needed for the production of goods in the world with the advent of more modern mechanized production facilities. These trends foreshadow not just change but a seismic quake. A wave of change that will crash upon us with a force we haven t known before. Many will see this new wave of change as frightening. But, it does not have to be viewed that way. Aside from all the loss and danger our collective future shows, it also offers unparalleled opportunity.
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