2.2: Information Technology and Society
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There can be little question that characteristics of our brains differentiate humans from other creatures. Increasingly, cognitive scientists recognize our brains are designed for the social interactions that have allowed humans to cooperate, and this cooperation has enabled our species to avoid extinction. Cognitive and developmental psychologist Michael Tomassello (2014) described the importance of social interaction for human nature when he observed, “Humans biologically inherit their basic capacities for constructing uniquely human cognitive representations, forms of inference, and self-monitoring, out of their collaborative and communicative interactions with other social beings. Absent a social environment, these capacities would wither away from disuse....” (p. 147). As much as we are a social species, humans are a technology-using species. It is through technology that humans have extended their capacity to manipulate and control the environment. These effects had led scientists to define the Anthropocene as the era in which humans are changing the world on a geologic time scale (Waters, Zalasiewicz, Summerhayes, Barnosky, Gałuszka, & Wolfe, 2016). When using information technology in the 21st century, humans are both social and technology-using at once. Through our IT, we interact with people across the globe just as quickly and easily as we can interact with individuals at the next room. In the next section, I present information technology as a factor in society that exerts strong and active influences on individual humans, the organizations we create, and the cultures that emerge.