A computer is a gadget that performs complex tasks such as arithmetic and logic operations under the control of a set of instructions called programs (Cortada, 2008). Programs in the computer can be altered to enable the machine solve numerous tasks. Information systems on the other hand refer to the interaction between computer systems and people in order to support business processes (Cortada, 2008). Therefore an IS (Information system) can be seen to comprise of computers, procedures, people, instructions, and stored facts that would further provide the link between people and technology.
The history of computer usage began in the middle of the 20th Century when Alan Turing came up with a large machine the size of a room and used a lot of power compared to the latest ones. In those times it was still referred to a machine that performed algorithm procedures only, hence were characterised by limited functions. The architecture of computers has vastly changed over the years with accompaniment of improved function ability of the machine. This was accelerated by the discovery and implementation of ALU (Arithmetic/Logic Unit) and integrated circuits in the seventies (Rosenberg, 2004). The ALU allowed computers to perform two functions which are arithmetic and logic, and the logic function forming the basis of electronic communication. On the other hand integrated circuits facilitated formation of smaller processing units which have resulted to smaller computers over the years compared to earlier ones.
This paper will highlight the benefits and possible disadvantages that have resulted with the introduction of computers and IT systems. The discussion will be done in three categories which are influences in social, industrial, and commercial contexts. A conclusion will be made with a personal statement as to the future of computers.
“ Computers are seen to be a major reason for surfacing of a post-industrial society and for an information revolution (Seppa, 2011).” In the past decade, the cost of computers has been reducing causing many PC’s, work stations, and advanced networking components to be found in the homes of people. This trend has resulted in communication being easier nowadays. Technologies such as telegraphs and telephones have been vastly affected with people resorting to internet communication, which is an IT application. The society nowadays uses IT systems to apply for jobs, and even to send messages globally. This fact has been proved by Gohring (2009) who asserted that eighty-eight percent of companies in USA required applicants to use email as a form of application, and that 96% of Americans used email to communicate compared to 4% who still used postal systems. The negative implication in this scenario is that it provides an avenue for a work force that is unskilled in communication skills where IT systems are seen to help job applicants write superior letters and CV’s hence deceiving employers (Madhu et al., 2006).
The computer and It system are also crucial in the education sector where children nowadays are instructed and gain information from computers through the internet. This has resulted into making children more aware of current issues affecting the society. Also it improves research skills resulting in new innovations that have made life much easier like grading system programs for teachers. However, the positive impact has been accompanied by disadvantages where students who depended so much on IT to solve their problems have been discovered to be lazy and even have lower IQ (Fuchs, 2008).
Impact on Industry
The greatest impact has however been seen in the entertainment industry where numerous IT systems have resulted into changing how people spend their leisure time. In the past, people spent time with nature before using the Television and Radio to entertain them. Nowadays, computers have been the central focus in providing entertainment through computer games, movies that have advanced graphics such as Godzilla, Final Fantasy among others. Movies such as Godzilla that have been made from computer simulations have provided us with a clear view of how life was in eras, or time zones we were not part of. However, a negative implication of IT systems on entertainment is that they could negatively affect the youth, such as aggressive video games could result in youth who had no respect for human life (Morley & Parker, 2009).
There has also been great impact in the defence and military industry where nowadays digitalized computer systems are of great help in communication between naval bases and even in naval and air warfare. There have also been applications by AI (Artificial Intelligence) which resulted in robots that have been of great help in to man. For instance, robots have been used in making of the satellite in the earth’s atmosphere which has been of great help to security agencies such as CIA and FBI in getting vital information on enemies (Sund, 2007). Negative impact in this advancement is that privacy in the society is reduced where security agencies in the hope of maintaining security tap on people using IT applications which is an infringement on their right of privacy.
Other impacts is in medical industry where IT systems and computers have had vast influence on diagnosis, evaluation of medical disorders, and even in making gadgets that would aid in supporting life, such as dilators, and artificial hearts.
Impact on Business
Computers and IT systems have also been vastly seen to impact the business world where nowadays all workplaces are seen to have computers. Computers and IT systems have been used to analyse customer preferences, forecast market trends, and even change production methods to improve on monetary returns of businesses (Plouffe, 2000). Since the introduction of 50 million computers in the workplace and homes in 1991, the trend of increasing usage of computers has been on the rise (Cortada, 2008).
The impact on banks has been greatly felt where since the emergence of ATM machines people have been able to easily get their money. The effect has also been beneficial to banks where more customers have emerged and even led to simplifying work operations. This fact was supported by Plouffe (2000) who noted that since the introduction of ATM in Barclays bank in 1972, the graph in increasing customers had been noticed in comparison to other banks which did not offer the same IT system. On the other, hand the adoption of the ATM system also resulted in increased levels of fraud where people would have easy access to a person’s bank account through the ATM machine.
In the service business like law firms, computers have been very crucial in manipulating data and even in coming up with documents. The analyzed data and manipulated documents are passed to other employees through business networks that are very secure without alteration (Rosenberg, 2004). Therefore, it can be seen that because of computers and IT systems it is very hard for people to forge documents hence resulting to more trusted documents. Computers and IT systems are even very crucial in stock exchanges where data is analysed very quickly to see which company is on the rise and which one is performing poorly.
It can be seen that since the introduction of computers to the society in the mid-twentieth century there have been vast positive impacts in industrial, social, and business aspects of the society. Although the positive impacts have been accompanied by negative ones, the positive ones are far many and provide evidence that the direction of the future society will depend on what innovations of computers and IT systems will be unearthed. However, care should be introduced in innovations and usage of computers because they are a risk in making man useless and lazy not to use his rationalizing and creative skills that computers do not have.
Cortada, J. W., 2008. Digital hand: how computers changed the work of American financial, telecommunications, media, and entertainment Industries. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 14-538
Fuchs, C., 2008. The implications of new information and communication technologies for sustainability. Environment, Development and Sustainability 10, no. 3, (June 1): 291-309.
Gohring, N., 2009. The Future of Computing: In the future, computers will do more work automatically for people, rather than reacting to human input, Microsoft’s head of research and strategy said on Monday. CIO, August 1
Gordon C. L., 2010. Information Age: Is Technology Good or Bad? Yes. Wall Street Journal, August 23, Eastern Edition.
Madhu T. R., Poole, W., Raven, P. R., and Lockwood, L. D., 2006. Trends, Implications, and Responses to Global IT Sourcing: A Field Study. Journal of Global Information Technology Management 9, no. 3, (July 1): 5-23.
Morley, D., & Parker, C. S., 2009. Understanding Computers: Today and Tomorrow, comprehensive (12 ed.). Ohio: Cengage Learning. Pp. 496-628
Plouffe, D., 2000. Commercializing information technology. Canadian Underwriter, September 1, 70.
Rosenberg, R. S., 2004. The Social Impact of Computers (3rd ed.). London: Elsevier Academic Press. Pp. 173-407
Seppa, N., 2011. Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? Science News, June 4, 30. http://www. proquest. com/ (accessed June 15, 2011)
Sund, C., 2007. Towards an international road-map for cybersecurity. Online Information Review 31, no. 5, (September 1): 566.