Positive and negative effects of technology on society - elpassion.com (2023)

June 17, 2021 (updated: November 26, 2021) throughPatrycja PaterskaPatrycja Paterska

Tech is equally capable of making life easier and harder. Just like everything else in this world, it pretty much depends on how we use it.

AccordinglyEdelman's 2020 Confidence Barometer, trust in technology fell 6 points globally (on a scale from 100 to 68). In the US, it hit an all-time low of 57 out of 100. It's a good time to look back and review what technology and the tech industry is doing well and what needs improvement. Is technology good or bad for us?

Positive impact of technology on society

The development and adoption of technology has helped societies increase productivity, increase the inclusiveness of services, and improve overall well-being. Where have technical advances helped the most?

Health and Wellness Advances

Technology has enormous potential to improve health and health systems as we know them. From AI-powered clinical drug trials to enabling preventive patient monitoring to wellness solutions like wearables. We've seen how technology has bridged the healthcare gap during the pandemic. Telemedicine apps are the first step in making healthcare more equitable and accessible for everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

The widespread adoption of technology among both patients and healthcare professionals has immense potential to improve the efficiency of public health organizations. Technological advances in healthcare (such as wearables) can reduce overall healthcare spending and make it possible to monitor patients' conditions and detect abnormalities earlier, enabling them to react earlier. Complex healthcare systems powered by AI analytics are able to better distribute care and treatment.Virtual reality therapy is being tested on patients with severe traumaGoing back, facing your fears again, and surviving proved to be the greatest therapeutic leap for many.


Startups and healthcare tech companies are moving much fasterthan traditional companies, with fewer regulatory barriers. A good example of this would be xCure's Beat 19 study, which went live in the US in the first month after the pandemic.

xCures, an AI-powered company that matches cancer patients and their oncologists with optimal investigational or approved therapies, used their algorithm to collect data on the spread of Covid-19, including gender, race and underlying diseases. Now it is used for scientific research purposes.

  • You can read more about the xCures project in our2021 Digital Health Trends Report.

Education (EdTech)

We already have many learning platforms that aggregate courses for different ages from different fields and industries. They usually contain videos, interactive boards, or games for practice. This alonemakes education much more accessible and scalablethan ever before.

However, the technical impact on education does not end with virtual learning. Leveraging virtual reality, artificial intelligence, neuroscience and learning science technology, classroom learning becomes a more immersive and holistic experience. startups likeDiveUse VR to help students learn English by communicating and practicing their English skills through a range of subjects and topics using a VR headset.

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Artificial intelligence can help students with disabilities find the best way for them to learn efficiently and with tangible progress. Automation and systematization can solve the biggest pain point for teachers around the world: administrative tasks that take a lot of time.

Environmental Protection & Smart Cities

If you ask someone how technology affects the environment, they will probably say "very badly". While true in the past, ultimate awareness of the need to protect the environment has grown over the past decade and technology has been one of the industries that jumped on the bandwagon the quickest.

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Environmental startups (also called "green startups") build sustainable solutions to use materials that are difficult to recycle and reduce waste, purify water and monitor changes in the environment to ensure a more sustainable future.

A Nigerian startup,Brickifyrecycles plastic waste into bricks that are water, fire and heat resistant and can be used for both road construction and low-cost housing.

BAG RECEIVEDfrom Germany is the first company to make a backpack from ocean plastic. They work with 1,5000 fishermen in Asia to collect plastic from the ocean.

Another startup from Germany,POWER BLOCKdesigned a storage-based thermal energy system that can operate up to 1,300 degrees Celsius. 85% of the system is made from recycled materials and therefore has a lower carbon footprint than the competition.

Shortly after months of forest fires in Australiadryad networkslaunched their product: a wireless environmental sensor network to detect wildfires about 60 minutes before they start. It is based on the leading open standard for long-range wireless IoT networks. They have recently improved their product and offer growth and health monitoring solutions for public and private forests. Some of the metrics that can be measured are humidity, dryness, air quality, CO2 levels, O2 concentration in the water, etc.

The concept of smart cities is also closely linked to environmental protection. Many cities around the world use technological solutions to implement measures to reduce waste and pollution and to optimize energy consumption. Electric cars are preferred in inner cities; Waste distribution regulations also rely on the Internet of Things to optimize processes. IoT is able to reduce the frequency of garbage collection and minimize the overall cost of garbage collection, reducing carbon emissions in cities.

equal opportunity

The universal value of technology is to put products and services on an equal footing and minimize socio-economic differences between societies and people. As discussed above, technology is making health and education accessible to more people, making it easier to learn and receive care regardless of their background.

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In a work environment, technology can equalize attitudes, uncover wage discrepancies, and standardize wage systems. Tech helps detect all forms of discrimination: gender gaps, minority exclusions, etc. Artificial intelligence models are learning (and getting better at) how to spot hate speech of all shapes and sizes. For disabled people, the implementation of technical solutions makes physical spaces more accessible to them.

Negative impact of technology on society

Technology's negative impact on society affects the mass products most commonly blamed: social media. A vast amount of research has been conducted on the subject, which lists social media as the number one place for misinformation, hate speech and harassment on the one hand and as a place where people are left isolated and depressed on the other.

Fake news and misinformation

Fake news and misinformation have been with us for a long time, but with the rapid advances in technology, people are finding it difficult to keep up with what is true and what is not.

61% of the 2020 Edelman Barometer admitted the pace of technological change is too fast. 57% of them believe the digital media platforms they use are contaminated with untrustworthy information. And after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, 76% of people fear fake news will be used as a polarization and radicalization weapon. This was compounded by the pandemic, which led to a fake news boom,contributing to confusion and insecurity among the global population.

Deepfakes are an example of a relatively new threat and a major problem for all social media platforms. Numerous deepfake incidents have already happened. A recent one was with the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Dutch Parliament, which wastricked into making a video call with a deepfakeposing as a Russian opposition leader. No real damage was done then. However, it was a quick lesson that illustrated a potential threat for the future.

To combat deepfake videos, Facebook launched a deepfake detection challenge back in 2019 to develop autonomous algorithmic detection systems.

Social media platforms generally struggle with content moderation. In early 2021, Twitter launched a "Birdwatch" pilot program aimed at building a community to combat misinformation and fake news.

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The impact of social media on mental health

Social media focuses on instant gratification. All app notifications are there to lure a person back into the app and scroll down.That's what neuroscientists at Freie Universität Berlin say, Social media notifications (especially likes, follows, etc.) activate our brain's reward system.

Numerous studies have shown that exposure to social media can lead to persistent feelings of loneliness and detachment. The popularly used term FOMO (fear of missing out) is directly associated with the intensive use of social media. It refers to a situation where a person is inundated with content from friends, colleagues, or even influencers doing exciting things while their life or activities seem mundane and slightly worse. It's especially damaging at a young age, because even though people are aware that the content they're watching is just a series of highlights in a person's life, it abandons themfeeling lonely and unconscious.

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Linked to FOMO and social media anxiety is falling self-esteem. Much research has been done on this topic, but the conclusions are still very inconclusive.

A team of researchersRyerson University of Torontoanalyzed the cumulative results of 121 studies to see if they could reach consensus. They found a small but significant negative relationship between social media use and self-esteem, suggesting that the higher social media use, the lower self-esteem. Other findings were that people who use social networking sites may do so at the expense of their personal relationships. People with low self-esteem were naturally more drawn to social media as it helped them avoid unpleasant real-life experiences.

More or less tech – what does the future hold?

Technology has ultimately changed the world as we know it, supporting the faster development of many areas and bringing more equality and opportunity, regardless of one's socio-economic background.

Most of the damage is due to technical misuse. The social media example above confirms that we need more empathy and accountability for users when developing tech products. It's time to start the conversation about how better technology can actually protect us from distraction, increase meaningful interactions, and encourage non-addictive behaviors that affect the brain's subconscious.

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