The Ultimate Value of Technology

The Ultimate Value of Technology

Robert A. Schultz (Woodbury University, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-779-9.ch012
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Abstract

In the previous chapter, we saw how difficult it was to determine the value of information technology, even with a clearly defined point of view from which to assess that value, namely, the interests of the organization utilizing the technology. Over and above the point of view of the organization or even the economy as an aggregate of organizations, there are other perspectives to consider. Is it correct to view technology as another enabling value like health and wealth, an all-purpose means that enables us to achieve any number of our ends?1 Or should technology rather be viewed as an entirely different way of structuring reality? These questions raise broader issues that need to be considered from much wider points of view: What is the value of information technology for humanity as a whole? And finally, what is the value of information technology for being as a whole? In considering these questions, we need also to consider whether the value of information technology is best assessed as a part of technology generally, or whether information technology has its own characteristics relevant for assessing its value. I will examine issues concerning technology as a whole in this chapter, and return to the IT-specific issues in the next chapter. Beyond considering technology and information technology from the point of view of humanity as a whole, it may be necessary to consider technology and information technology from the point of view of being as a whole. One could think of the point of view of being as a whole as God’s point of view, except that many religious conceptions of God assign many different human attributes to God. And so to determine what is valuable from God’s point of view would embroil us in major religious disputes about God’s nature. Trying to take the point of view of being avoids such disputes. Rather, we are asking, what is the value of technology from the point of view of the unfolding or revealing of whatever is, has been, or will come to be?2 Even the point of view of humanity is itself very difficult for many people to embrace. Instead, their highest point of view is that of some limited human group, most typically national or social groups, ethnic groups, or economic groups or organizations. Yet even with these difficulties, it is easier to discuss the value of technology and information technology from the point of view of humanity as a whole than it is to discuss these questions from the point of view of being. So we will start with the point of view of humanity.

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