Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Hynes, Mike
The Sociological Association of Ireland (SAI) 44th Annual Conference
Illuminating the ‘Blackbox’: A call for more robust sociological (re)engagement with technology design, development and adoption processes
Ulster University, Belfast Campus
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields
Technology permeates our daily lives having significant impacts and effects on how we communicate, live, work and play. We are now living longer and healthier because of new and innovative technologies. Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) have allowed us to remain connected to work colleagues, family and friends and has brought about broad and deep benefits to the economy and entire communities across the developed world. It can be said that technology has been a source of some good and significantly shaped society as we know it today and there continues to be remarkable confidence that science and technology will solve the major problems facing humanity, including those created in the first place by technologies themselves. But technologies have not only positive impacts and consequences and they have led to wide scale job loss, diminished human competencies, and the development of globally destructive weapons and increased environmental harm. Alas, sociology has, heretofore, frequently been hesitant to challenge and contest technology design, development, direction, and adoption processes instead leaving these crucial debates and decisions to engineers, technologists and futurists. This paper is principally a call for sociology to (re)engage in technology debates with much more attention and vigour. It seeks to outline some key sociological related deliberations and issues, concentrating on the prominent phenomena of ‘fake news’ which obfuscates the truth unsettling contemporary politics and, indeed, civil society. With a focus on the consumption of such ‘alternative facts’, this article provides a hypothesis on how the unrestricted ‘wild west’ internet has facilitated a situation where fact and fiction wrestle for attention and popularity. Sociology’s primary focus is the study of human behaviours and the social order and it is, therefore, critical that the discipline reposition itself front and centre in debates about technologies that are fundamentally changing societies, communities, and lives.
Publication Themes
Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy