“Information is power.” That familiar saying is true. Have you ever taken time to consider how the world will be without faster technologies of processing information? Information technology in itself refers to all systems of software along with hardware used in data collection, storage, analysis, processing and easy access to enhance informed decision making by various entities. Information technology is inevitable and it is there to stay, but what about the environment? We can’t focus on information technology alone while neglecting the environment because the two go hand in hand. All the software in addition to hardware which comprises information technology has various environmental impacts. These are both positive and negative (Harness, 1997).
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First and foremost the effects on environment can be economical. Information technology had transformed the business environment by expediting it instead of enhancing the relationship. This is argued by the fact that it makes the business environment more efficient and competitive. The motivation is to accelerate processing, reduce resources and improve productivity. The change in economic environment has led to a rise in business process re-engineering. This is done with emphasis being sited on integrating websites with legacy systems operating in the back end as well as databases. It is argued that technology is the key to adding customers, suppliers and other partners. Decline in the cost of technology in business environments has stimulated enormous investments and complex organizational transformation. Information technology has fuelled processing power by breaking down barriers in communication within corporate functions. Bill Gates argues that a new digital system enables firms to run efficiently and smoothly, enhances response time and provides a means of disseminating relevant information to the person who needs it. This in effect empowers employees’ decision making and customer interactions. The argument is that innovative uses of information technology would certainly lead lots of firms to build new, structures which are coordination-intensive, making them able to coordinate their functions in ways that were impossible before. It is anticipated that such structures will result to strategic advantages.
In the second place the effects of information technology on environment can be social. Information technology amid other things has been held responsible for creating unemployment. This is due to the fact that many tasks that were performed manually by several people can be automated. It has also been blamed for deskilling jobs, decreased the abilities of governments to be in command of their economies, invading privacy, causing an increase in delinquency in children etc. The level and choice of use of information technology determines levels and patterns of employment, ways of socializing and also vulnerability. It is said that information technology has led to worsening income circulation hence individuals’ desire slower economic growth and better income circulation. The positive impact has been enhanced communication for example due to emergence of digital technology that has led to spread and use of telephones in areas where it could have been difficult to install fixed-lines telephones. One view is that information technology has saved people from use of manual labor, increasing leisure time and made and enhanced lifespan. Politically information technology has enhanced democratization. This is brought about by efficient and reduced errors during electoral process. Votes can be counted in real time and results conveyed appropriately reducing chances of vote rigging.
Lastly the impact can be on environment degradation. Today technology is portrayed as the cause and remedy to environmental problems. There is some of truth in the later view. This is because information technology drives a great deal of our production as well as cause pollution. This is caused by how hardware is disposed. Many hardware users are ignorant of the hardware life cycle hence dispose it anyhow. Inefficient use of energy and improper use of hardware lead to generation and discharge of toxic compounds to the environment. The environmental troubles associated with computers are two-fold. High energy utilization and highly hazardous materials are presently common characteristics of computers, thus making their manufacturing, use and disposal ecologically unsafe. According to Cubban (1996) electronic equipment for example desktop computers consumes significant amounts of electric power. A usual CPU consumes 120 Watts of electricity, while a CRT monitor consumes additional 150 W. The overall result of this is global warming and climate change.
After shading some light on effects of information technology, it is argued that the advantages supersede the disadvantages. My argument is that the world is still challenged on making sure that potential consequences of any technology should be fully explored before being employed. If the equivalent has some use it probably implies that it would be better for us to attend to the issues of disparate access information technology development than attempt to put a stop to it happening. It is vital to think on potential development of information technology before making avoidable mistakes. The intricacy is that predicting what the outcome will be is distant from certain; it is compared to imagining the presence of non existence dragons rather than taking a walk straight over the cliff. It is worth noting the words of the McDavid statement (2002): “The road forward does not lie through the despair of doom-watching or through the easy optimism of successive technological fixes” (p.234).
- Cubban, M 1996, Assessment of Environmental life-cycle, McGraw Hill, New York.
- Harness, DS 1997, Information and Society, Prentice-Hall, Sydney.
- McDavid, EJ 2002, Global Environment Outlook, Irwin, Sydney.