It is true that computers have created a revolution in the life of human beings and have simplified the way in which we live. But is the computer really helping humans or just adding more work? Are humans becoming more addicted to computers?
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The aim of this paper is to investigate the role of computers in the daily life of people, especially in areas of business, education, and personal interaction. The paper investigates the dependence of humans and life on the computer and shows that, to some extent, the loss of computers would cause a social breakdown.
The computer is serving as a replacement for almost all traditional technologies that were used by our preceding generation. But are we using the computer in a balanced and efficient manner? The paper points out that in most cases, the computers are believed blindly, leading to severe cases of breakdown when a computer fails to work.
Computers and education
The use of technology and computers in the education system has become a norm in this century. The influence of computers in education is evident right from the primary classes until post-graduate education. “Over the past 20 years, schools have spent millions of dollars to equip themselves with the latest technologies.
Technology is indeed the most impressive development of our age, and each of us, in our own way, is captivated by it.” (Wepner 1). However, there are some primary drawbacks in the way in which we use technology in school or college education. In most cases, the teachers who plan for the class to be taken with the help of computers or the internet takes a lot of things for granted.
The teacher believes that the entire system is failing proof and will run exactly the same way he or she has planned it to run. And in most cases, the teachers are overconfident about their classes using computers and technology. All these can bring about severe failures in the whole plan.
An example from the life of a fourth-grade teacher, John, who prepared a lesson on the Presidential election of the United States. John had decided to take his fourth-grade students to the computer lab to show the website featuring the details on the U.S. Presidential elections.
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Prepared to use the internet as a means of teaching, John took his students to the lab to find that the computers in the lab were not supporting internet access. John decided to call the technical assistant but was disappointed as he was on a field trip with another class of students.
Had John pre-checked the computers in the school lab before preparing for the lesson, he would not have faced this difficulty. Even though most reputed hardware vendors promise 24 hours of hardware technical support, it is hardly the practical case.
In order to access the support, in most cases, we should be as proficient as them to untangle the problem in hardware and software skills, or we should wait. It is always best to have somebody with good technical knowledge to be present when using computers for educational purposes.
“With increasing, use of instructional technology come the probability that at some point, the technology will fail, resulting in lost time, student frustration, and perhaps, loss of papers for exams.” (Hitch 2). Another example is quite recent, which had affected a large number of students.
The conductors of the Common Admission Test, the world’s third toughest admission exam to the top management institutions of India, decided to take the test online for the first time. A reputed American software firm was appointed to conduct the test online in over five thousand centers across India and abroad. Several thousands of students take the test every year and are considered a lifeline for many.
On the day of the test this year, several computers just stopped responding after the students started their exams. Another problem that arose was a virus attack on the computers of many exam centers, which manipulated the question paper to ask stupid questions to the students.
More than two thousand students had to stop taking the test and were scheduled. The problem even affected the Ministry and parliament affairs after the students and interesting groups protested.
Had the conductors foreseen the chance of virus attack and system shut down while designing the software for conducting the paper, this would not have happened. “The first step in planning for technology disruptions is a thorough review of existing policies.” (Hitch 5). Using standardized computer systems and networks and taking enough security provisions is a must while conducting online exams of this scale.
Computers and Personal interaction
The computer’s revolution in changing lifestyle was followed by the advent of the internet and much more sophisticated technology like the use of real-time chats and video and chats over the net.
“The emergence of new digital media in recent years has spurred much popular and scholarly debate on the implications of these new technologies for human interaction and its outcomes.” (Yzer and Southwell 8). It is sure that these new technologies have helped to change our life for the better. But these are not without negative sides.
Shelley B. Wepner, in her paper Technology Run Amok: Top ten Techno Blunders site two personal examples of the effect of computer failure in her personal life.
The first one was while she needed to submit a grant application urgently, her computer suddenly froze. The system failed to respond to anything. As it was the middle of the night, the author could not call for technical help to solve her problem. She had to stop the work.
A second occasion when the author faced technology problem was when she needed to email her fellow committee members about an urgent work which had come up just before she was about to leave home for vacation for a few days. To her dismay, the computer had gone dead. She has quoted in her paper as “The summer 2003 incarnation of a widespread worm had hit my computer.
The hardware company’s technical support team offered me the equivalent of “take two aspirins and call in the morning” by saying, “Go find a technician and call us back in a few hours when you have your data saved.” (Wepner 2).
While we are getting more dependent on this machine, we have to realize that machines have to serviced and replaced at the right time. Using old and outdated computers and software can add problems to solving them. Also, using necessary precautions and methods like the antivirus and spam ware defenders have to be installed and updated to avoid disastrous situations.
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Computers and business
Computers and information technology have started taking up a business around the world on behalf of humans. “In fact, by now, the role of computers in business has risen to the point where computer networks, even more than personnel, are synonymous with the corporate entity.” (Hemphill para 4). But this dependency has caused some serious problems when the system break downs.
On November 19, the airline industry in the U.S. faced a four hour shut down and delay of flights across the country. “The Federal Aviation Administration blamed a four-hour software failure for causing airline delays and cancellations across the U.S. in at least the third such disruption since September 2007.” (Hughes and Schlangenstein para 1).
Although technology is far advanced, a simple malfunction in the software caused a literal standstill of some of the busiest airports in the country.
Several tens of thousands of circuits and software had to be replaced to get the airline traffic control into normal. The Inspector-General was quoted saying as “Technical problems are causing unscheduled outages and creating risks to air- traffic control operations.” (Hughes and Schlangenstein para 3).
Another incident was caused by the bank account database of some famous banks around the world. In most developing countries, the banks and their operations are completely computerized. An attack of a virus onto a bank’s database has caused high variations in all the accounts of the bank’s clients, leading to a heavy financial disaster.
Business institutions have to take extreme care and precaution while implementing computer and technology into business as a small disruption can cause high losses.
By providing examples of the effects of computer disruption on education, personal, and business life, this paper has proved that the increasing dependence of humans on computers is actually creating more problems than solving them. Using computers without proper precautions and alternate solutions may lead to complete failure of objectives. It is always better to control the use of technology and stop being addicted to computers.
Hemphill, Mark. The Role of Computer in Business. MIS for the Information Age. 2004.
Hitch, Leslie P. “Being Prepared for Technology Snow Days.” ECAR Research Bulletin 2002.
Hughes, John and Schlangenstein, Mary. FAA Cites Software Failure in U.S. Flight Disruptions (Update 1). Bloomberg Press. 2009.
Wepner, Shelly B. Technology Run Amok: The Top Ten TechnoBlunders. Reading Online – Electronic Classroom. 2009.
Yzer, Marco C. and Southwell, Brian G. “New Communication Technologies, Old Questions.” American Behavioral Scientist 52. (2008): 8-20. Sage Publications.