The information age is characterized by fast communication modes that are not limited to location and distance. Information moves in real-time across the globe. New technologies that make the information age possible such as computers, the internet, smartphone, and satellite among others have changed how humankind behaves. Technologies in the information age come with their advantages and disadvantages that are specific to each sector. We discuss these sectors and how they are affected by technology.
The digital age technologies have impacted all aspects of our life from individual daily life to how government works. They have influenced all sectors from education, business and economy, agriculture, environment, engineering, military and security, government operations, and industries among other areas.
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Impact of the information age on education
Before the technologies such as computers and the internet, most of the learning was happening in a four-walled room with a teacher physically guiding the learner. Physical libraries with physical books were the normal way of getting new knowledge.
With new technologies, information can be accessed any time anywhere without requiring to be physically in a classroom with a teacher and a physical book. Internet and search engine help learners to search for content and new information over the internet. Online classrooms are the norm these days with the use of video conferencing platforms that are available. Universities have most of their books digitalized and they exist on their server computer or they have subscribed to online libraries such as IEEE Xplore library.
Negative impacts of the information age on Education
The information age has it negative impact when it comes to education. The main is plagiarism of content. Since information is simple to get online learners can copy and paste that knowledge without even acknowledging the source of data. Self-pacing learning that is characterized by current age requires a highly motivated individual to learn since there is no teacher to push the student.
Impacts on business and economy
Compared to days before the age of information, and fast communication, businesses used to have a limited area of operation and it was expensive to reach customers in a far location.
In the digital age, businesses can reach a global market by using technologies such as advertising on social media, creating an online store, doing online sales, and customer service among others. Companies like Amazon are modern retail businesses that characterized the information age, business model. Anybody can buy or sell their goods or service using the platform from wherever they are in the world.
With online business fraud and untrustworthy companies and customer becomes the main challenge. Giving out your hard-earned money with a click of a button to a faceless individual is not a simple act. The customer is not sure if they pay for the goods they will be delivered and what the quality will be like until they receive them.
Impacts of the digital age on Agriculture
Agriculture has been practiced since the time of the agricultural revolution then the industrial revolution mechanized it to huge production. Agriculture is still mechanized and it will remain for many decades to come like that but the use of information is helping to improve production.
Farmers are using technology to monitor their farmers in real-time. By use of the internet and other technology, they can monitor and get live feed when the farm gets infected with pests or diseases, and get notifications when temperatures are high among other factors. With this kind of data, decisions are made faster to improve production. Drones as technology can also the used to spray big farmers.
With improved technology, more land is cleared to pave the way for more agricultural activity. These lead to loose of biodiversity in the environment that was before the use of advanced technology. This also leads to mono-cropping where you find most of the world’s land is occupied by a single crop such as wheat.
Before digital age technologies, most waste materials were biodegradable and non-toxic.
Technology has helped develop better methods to conserve our environment by monitoring issues such as waste disposal. Also, we have new technologies that are used to create better ways of recycling materials that are not biodegradable.
The major casualty of the information age is how it has affected our environment in negative ways. Most of the materials and hardware produced and used in modern technology they are not biodegradable. This means if they are not recycled which most are not, then they pollute our environment. Also, raw materials that are used to manufacture these devices such as computer and smartphones are mined which affect the environment. What all this means is that humankind is exposed to toxicity associated with digital waste generated from all these technologies.
Impact of information age technologies on Engineering
As long as humankind has existed there has been some kind of engineering happening. Then came the industrial revolution which pushed engineering to its optimum capacity. New digital technology has come to improve and make engineering more efficient.
By the use of the vast information available and the speed at that engineers can process data for decision making they can design products that were not possible before. In less than a century we have moved from not having an airplane to having supersonic planes. We have moved from not having a computer, then to one that is bigger than a modern house, to a smartwatch and smartphone that can fit in our pocket. All this is thanks to technology that help process information fast in the hands of engineers.
Impacts on Military
Wars have been there since humans have existed and probably they will continue. The before information age armies relied mostly on what today we can term as traditional weapons and physical force to win wars.
Positive impact on military operations
With technology, the military industry has greatly benefited. Today warfare is technology based. With the use of technologies such as drones, the government can spy and even attack enemies from the comfort of its military base. Simulation technologies help the military to test field scenarios in a virtual environment which they can use for preparedness before moving to the war zone. Maybe the next world war will be fought online with the use of technology.
The militaries are spending a lot of resources to develop new technologies. Some of these technologies may never find their way to the battlefield since they are too lethal for both parties. This leads to the wastage of resources that could have been used for the good of humankind. The technology also has facilitated the military competition of who has the biggest and more sophisticated technology.
Impact of the information age on government operations
Government is the main consumer and facilitator of technology use. They require information fast to make decisions and deliver services to citizens.
Benefits of the information age on government services
With technology, the government can be able to track the progress of many projects in different locations within the country. They can also use technology for predictions and service delivery to citizens. Most of the world’s governments have online platforms where they give online services to improve the efficiency of service delivery.
Misuses of information technology on Citizens
The governments are using technologies such as biometric data and CCTV cameras to track citizens which goes against the right to privacy. Technology can also the used to suppress anti-government groups which means those opposing policies from the government have no voice.
Impacts of the digital age on Security
Before the technology used in the digital age securing premises and data required using physical measures such as having a lock, safe, or employing a security guard for protection.
With information technology, securing a premise may still use the old methods but on top of that, we can use the latest technology to enforce that. By use of access control such as biometric authentication, CCTV, tracking systems, using stealth surveillance technology security agents can collect a lot of information. Intelligence information collected can be used to protect against threats such as terrorist attacks, and cyber-attacks among others.
The negative side of this technology is most systems are online and centralized in one location. This makes the system vulnerable to cyber attacks since they are over the internet. Again terrorists and other threat groups can own the same or even better systems that can be used against the government or on critical services infrastructure. For example, terrorist or system hackers getting unauthorized access to nuclear plants can lead to unprecedented results which are not good.
Impact of the information age on Industries
The industrial revolution is now incorporating information to make decisions and produce better products.
Positive ways data has changed industries
The technology used in the digital age help industries to create a product that meets user needs very fast. Technologies such as 3D printing which is also known as additive manufacturing are changing how industries are producing new, better products. The additive technology is going to make our home small production industries since the printer will be small enough to be used at home to manufacture the products we desire.
The negative impact of the digital age on industries
On the flip side digital technology facilitate the copying of product designs which can lead to substandard and fake products in the market. Since technology is cheap and simple to use people copy other’s products and sell them. The technology of product design and use is changing very fast to the point that some product becomes absolute before even they leave the company warehouse. This leads to wasting and pollution of the environment since they will be disposed of as electronic waste which takes a long time to biodegrade if they will ever degrade.
The future of the information age is coming with even better technologies that are expected to change how humans behave in the next few decades. this means technology will continue to be part of our life.