Technology from the social with a common sense

· Latin America
For persons living in a world of technology, it is possible that they get the impression that everything in the planet is technology and it is used to see those who are not inside such world as odd and strain people. It is one of the inside ghost of technology and people inside technologies must be prevented about such ghost since it is responsible of marginality. Looking to statistics and being philosophical, the world odd persons are actually those who live inside technology, since it continues being a good used by a human minority. Until technology does not reach the whole human population being in fact a patrimony of the peoples, technology means also a big division among those who can handle it and those who do not know it – the majority -. In Colombia, technology has a long way to run before it can reach the ideal. The first step is, therefore, to make it available to all.
By Al Rodas and Professor Ruth Esperanza López Medina* Picture “lo veo y no lo creo” by ambigel. | Español

When we talk about technologies our mind become full of ideas and imagination materialized in any kind of machines and tools that were invented to facilitate the work inside a developing system of technologic innovations and industrialization. Those processes did allow big science advances for the good of the human being and according with social interests and processes of education, science, society, politics and economics. In such context, we can state that technology, more than being a unique and single process, is the result of a social system that involves other factors such as psychology, sociology and culture.

The “Techno” People Vs. “Tribal” people

We use for this paper the term “Techno-people” to refer to those who live in a world of technology. They do technology a fundamental part of the human activity becoming their way of living: communication, transportation, feeding, thinking and many others. For “Techno-people”, the concept of time and space is completely different and reduced. For example, the distances between the United States and Europe are completely shorted due to the every time advances in transportation technologies when plains can cover distances in less time. A travel between New York and Bangkok is today something so normal almost like to take a taxi within New York. Practically the world mail is being reduced due to the facility of communication through Emails, Internet call systems, mobile phones and more and more artifacts that are making that the postman will become a job of the past.

Other term we use in this paper – just to make it clear and not official -, is the “Tribal” people, although the “Techno-people” is a great universe of tribes. But in this sense, we do not want to mean “tribes” in its original definition. These “Tribal-people” are the others who do not use technologies or use it in a very low proportion. As technologies are usually associated with urban centers – at least in Latin America -, these peoples out of technologies use to be found in small villages, far towns, poor regions, tribal people (here the term is as in the original definition of what is a tribe) and very undeveloped societies. It is true that in our cities we can find these two kinds of modern discriminations: middle and high classes in the “techno-people” group and poor classes in that “tribe-people” group. In this case, technologies become the seed – or even better to say, the revelation – of a social conflict.

The two temptations of technologies

There are two temptations you can have when you live inside the fascinating world of technology: thinking that things can be done and thought only from technology and considering that technology is something made just for selected social groups.

In the first temptation, “techno-people” use to look down on natural proposals and it conducts to discriminations. The ways of work and transformation made by the indigenous peoples, nomadic and natural societies, can be seen as barbaric and can conduct to marginalization of such groups. There is a kind of feeling that those persons are real guilty of no knowing technologies.

The second temptation is that technology is a right of certain groups of the society, the ones who can pay for it. Technology at the hands of ignorant, poor or tribal people is inconcebible. For example, in countries like Cambodia, East Timor or in Africa, the mobile phone became an artifact of common use among any person. It is being used by farmers, workers, drivers and even teenagers. In a more developed society like anyone in Europe, that fact could be surprising: how a poor country is using so many mobile phones as in Rome? But the answer is so much simple: mobile phones are cheaper than a fix phone, it is easier to place an antenna than put kilometers of cables, a mobile phone facilitate the life of a farmer working in a huge plain of Africa and it means more capacity and development. What could mean in Colombia or in Latin America if Internet is placed in the most apart regions of the country? It would mean that those regions would come in touch with the planet and have access to information, actuality, education and more capacity: technology was not made only for the facilitation of the life of the rich, but for the improvement of the life of the poor.

Technology and Economics

Technology however takes the hands of economics. In our Latin American countries technology still so expensive and investment in investigation still low in comparison with the industrialized countries. According with a study of Léa Velho, Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean: An Overvie, some Latin American countries have created a significant capacity in research but they have not been able to build virtuous links among various relevant social actors involved in knowledge production and use. For Alvaro Montes in his article Llegaron los computadores, Internet in Colombia still very low in national use with only about 5% and, according with the journalist, a Colombian in a group of 2 thousand has a computer. Even if these statistics are so low, Colombia stills the fourth Latin American country in the market of technologies after Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.

Picture “look, technology” by texas gentleman.

Technology, for other part, stills being a business of males in the planet. In the UNESCO Education For All Report of 2004, women were only a quarter of the world population of researchers. According with the Report, in Latin America and the Caribbean, 46% of the researchers were women. In countries like Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay and Venezuela, women researchers were between 45% and 55% being the higher numbers. Colombia is located in 35% – 45% together with Chile and Bolivia and Ecuador is under 30%.

Therefore, investment in technology requires investment in education and investigation. The Latin American countries still import technologies rather than being producers of it and the key for be a producers is to shelter the own researchers. Handling technologies is not only being users but being also their masters. In our case, technology has not been socially thought when the difference between “techno” and “tribe-people” still big and insurmountable. But the call is not only for those who have technology at hands, but an invitation to those who should have the technology, those groups that feel shy to assume it. Technology was made for the human being. We are the ones who decide what to do with it, how we allow its participation in our societies and which kind of responsibility we face in front of technologies. At this respect, Montes said, citing Manuel Dávila: “it is proven that in the developing of the ‘Software’ it is not required a developed country; what it is requiered is politics and decisitions“. The same we can say about technology as whole.


* Mrs. Ruth Esperanza López Medina is student of the Faculty of System Technologies of the Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia UNAD Acacias, Meta, Colombia.

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