Technology is not as unpredictable as it seems… At least judging from the case of Professor Melvin Kranzberg who 30 years ago was able to predict fairly precisely what is happening now in the age of Facebook, Google and iPhone.
Three decades ago, the historian of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who died in 1995, wrote six laws to explain the impact of technology. Based on historical examples dating back to the Cold War, its laws remain current.
Technology is neither good nor bad. It is neutral
Professor Kranzberg’s first law seems obvious, but it’s the most important.
His theory is that the impact of technology depends on the geographic and cultural context, which implies that it can often be a positive and negative impact at the same time. And this implies a responsibility on the part of technology companies that should have an obligation to anticipate the potential impact of everything they develop.
Invention is the mother of necessity
The professor assured that any technological innovation required further technical advances in order for it to function at full performance. In the case of smartphone, its invention brought with it the need to create new technologies such as the 5G connection or new devices such as the smartwatch.
Technology comes in packages: small and large
To understand all the legs of a particular technology it is necessary to observe the interactions and dependencies with the rest, including the human being. The professor wrote 30 years ago that although technology destroys jobs, it also creates countless new ones.
As well as the steel, oil or the train tracks were the technology package, which revolutionized the NINETEENTH century, the Internet, mobile phones and the wireless network are doing so in the TWENTY-first century.
Technology needs political decisions
“Although people believe that technology is something abstract that has some kind of intrinsic power, this is not the case,” said Professor Kranzberg’s historian and colleague, Robert C. Post.
The thinking of both advocates that behind technology there must be political and cultural decisions. A recent example was found in the United States Congress that forced Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc and other techs to unveil the names of those who invest in political ads on their platforms in the same way as it happens in other mainstream media such as television, radio or the press.
In essence, this idea is based on the fact that new media need new regulations.
All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most important
The Cold War brought with it the construction of nuclear weapons of mass destruction and that led to the development of a war-proof communication system that was the Internet. Here is the dilemma of what was before: the egg or the hen? Does the modern world arise from the context of political confrontation between the United States and the USSR, or was it the conflict itself provoked by technological advances that allowed Hitler to threaten both countries?
Technology is a “very human” activity”
As Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the 2017 Apple Event: “technology can do great things, but it doesn’t want to do them. Technology has no intention of doing anything.” That is to say that the last act of the technology of the professor Kranzberg is based on the idea that, despite its power, the use that we make of the technology depends entirely on the human beings.
- Technology is not good or bad, but neutral. It needs political decisions and depends on how human beings use it.
- An American historian has been able to predict 6 laws of technology that remain in force 30 years later.