One of the readings we had this week was by Danah Boyd. A question that was poised is as follows: “Should we build technology to promote what we believe should be people’s priorities? Or should we build technology that supports the priorities that most people have?”
I thought this was a very interesting question because I feel like it succinctly describes two different (maybe even polarizing) opinions on what technology’s purpose is in society. I was reminded of two separate examples – first, the fact that media in America has always been a business can be clearly seen today as we dominate the film and entertainment industry. Other countries, like France, whose media serves a more public purpose, continue to focus on documentaries and round-table discussions that air throughout the day. However, I also thought about how technology should be enhancing human intelligence, which to me sounds more like a public, altruistic objective than aiming to be a business and making profit.
The more I think about technology’s role in society today, the more I believe that the latter is true. I wonder if it’s because we’re in an environment that constantly praises the startup culture, but I find myself associating startup ideas as ideas that make our lives easier (or even ideas that make a lot of money), and not necessarily morally “better.” Recent apps like Snapchat or Tinder only make it more convenient for us to communicate, though those platforms’ objectives might not come from a sincerely altruistic place. In conclusion, I feel like the technology culture today has definitely evolved to become a business, and companies strive to make the most profit no matter what the cause.