The Positive and Negative Social Consequences of Technology

Course Leader(s)
Day of Week: Tuesday
Course Length: 5 weeks
Starting: 10/24/2023
Ending: 11/28/2023
Period of Day: Period 1 Zoom
Time: 9:30 - 11:00
Course Fee: $50

Course Description:

We have all heard about how artificial intelligence could create new and potentially catastrophic implications for humanity.  The impact of social technology is complicated and potentially beyond human control.  Fear of new technology has a long history.  For example, public opinion at the advent of the newspaper worried that people would forego the stimulating pleasures of early-morning conversation in favor of reading the daily.

Technology has both positive and negative social consequences. On the positive side, technology has increased connectivity, allowing new friendships regardless of distance and increasing access to information and resources. Consider how healthcare, communications, commerce, and even sports have been improved.  What would life be without smartphones, GPS, algorithms, and even electronic media.

Technology also has negative social consequences that include addiction, decreased communication skills, and harm to relationships.  Technology can also threaten privacy, erode security, and fuel inequality.  Overuse or dependence on technology may have adverse psychological effects, including isolation and disconnection.  The rise of social media has brought issues of increased disinformation and polarization.

In this course, we will highlight various technologies which have created large social consequences.  We will also explore some of the developing technological developments and examine whether and how society can control or manage their impact.  There will be a lot of classroom interaction in discussing topics.  An overview of each week’s topic will be presented.  A variety of readings will be posted for review.  Participants’ questions and comments will be especially sought.  Weekly prep time should be about two hours.

Books and Other Resources:

I will be creating a Google Sites folder containing leading articles and documents.  In addition, important books may be suggested.


Course Leader Bio(s)

Sandy Sherizen

I was trained as a sociologist, specializing on criminology issues, and then became a computer security and privacy consultant, writer, and lecturer. I have taught at various universities, was invited for various media engagements, led seminars, and given speeches in many domestic and international settings. As an ex-president, I am active at Congregation Beth El in Sudbury. Having flunked retirement, I have taught ESL to adult immigrants and now serve on a patient research ethics and safety board (IRB) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. I am currently a mentor in the College Behind Bars program. At several lifelong learning programs, I have taught a variety of topics including crime and criminal justice, the sociology of “deviant” behavior, the invisible forms of manipulation, the death of privacy, and surviving the Inquisition as a Secret Jew/Crypto Jew.