Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. Contemporary science is typically subdivided into the natural sciences, which study the material universe; the social sciences, which study people and societies; and the formal sciences, such as mathematics. The formal sciences are often excluded as they do not depend on empirical observations. Disciplines which use science like engineering and medicine may also be considered to be applied sciences.
The influence of science on people’s lives is growing. While recent benefits to humanity are unparalleled in the history of the human species, in some instances the impact has been harmful or the long-term effects give causes for serious concerns. A considerable measure of public mistrust of science and fear of technology exists today. In part, this stems from the belief by some individuals and communities that they will be the ones to suffer the indirect negative consequences of technical innovations introduced to benefit only a privileged minority.
The power of science to bring about change places a duty on scientists to proceed with great caution both in what they do and what they say. Scientists should reflect on the social consequences of the technological applications or dissemination of partial information of their work and explain to the public and policy makers alike the degree of scientific uncertainty or incompleteness in their findings. At the same time, though, they should not hesitate to fully exploit the predictive power of science, duly qualified, to help people cope with environmental change, especially in cases of direct threats like natural disasters or water shortages.
The social implications of a wide variety of science and technologies are the subject matter of the Society today. This assignment reviews the Society on social implication of science and technology’s contributions since the Society’s founding in 1982, and surveys the outlook for certain key technologies that may have significant social impacts in the future.
Science, without doubt, started with Galileo about 350 years ago. They’ve been rapid progress and the standard of living couple with manner of communication depicts total transformation. It is said that our life outwardly has changed more in the last one hundred years than it did in thousands of years earlier, because of the scientific knowledge accumulated over the last three centuries, and its application in the form of technology. So the implication and subsequent impact of science on society is very visible; these include progress in agriculture, medicine and health care, telecommunications, transportation, computerization.
In spite of all this advancement, the resulting development of science and technology, conveniences, comforts and power we have got through this knowledge, in any part of the world; are human beings happy? Are they at peace with themselves? Living without violence. It was strongly anticipated that the advance of science would usher in an era of peace and prosperity, but honestly, the reverse is the case. On the contrary, if we look at the level of violence throughout the world during a ten-year period, they’ve been rapid increase in destruction level, crisis and technological commotion/ insurgence is on the increase, in every decade, in every country, the graph is going up. Greater violence, pollution, climate changes, sorrow, tension, and newer diseases.
Everyone including the blind can see clearly that we have been at war for thousands of years, but we now have nuclear weapons. According to Joy Mills: ‘It is important to watch your next step, but before you take the next step, make sure that you have a long vision, which gives the direction to that step. Is the new knowledge, which is a new step, in the right direction? Through genetic engineering we might develop new power, but can we ensure that we will use that power for the benefit of mankind and for the earth at large? We cannot ensure that. If we cannot, is it responsible? Yet, all the nations of the world are spending huge amounts in developing scientific knowledge, as if that is our priority. Are the problems of humanity today caused by not having sufficiently fast aeroplanes or computers? Of course not. The crisis and tribulations exist because of lack of understanding of life and the psychologically primitive state in which we find ourselves.
Einstein is on record saying that had he known that his equation E = mc2, which stated a great truth about Nature, that mass is just another form of energy — will be used to make atomic bombs and kill large numbers of people in Japan, he would never have done that research or published the findings. That is something which has already happened in the last century. So, why do science exist to cause such evil?
Of course, we should differentiate between science and technology. Science is the quest for truth about Nature. Its aim is not to produce technology, but to understand how Nature works and discover the marvelous order and intelligence operating around us.
If Nature were chaotic, if sometimes a stone went up and sometimes down, then there would be no science. But definite causes produce definite effects, and that is why science is possible. The scientist does not create order, he merely studies it. We are living in a very intelligent universe.
A million things take place in perfect order within our body without any conscious voluntary effort on our part, but we have not discovered order in consciousness, which is virtue, peace of mind, love, happiness, compassion, freedom from conflict, non-violence. Socrates wrote that there is only one virtue — that is order in consciousness, though we may describe it in different words in different situations. And the quest for truth, and wisdom, which is the essence of Theosophy, is the quest for order in consciousness, and coming upon virtue.
Social Implications of science in the Past, Present, and Future
1) Military and Security Issues
Concern about the Vietnam War was a strong motivation for most of the early members of the Committee for Social Responsibility in Engineering, the predecessor organization. The problem of how and even whether engineers should be involved in the development or deployment of military technology has continued to appear in some form throughout the years, although the end of the Cold War changed the context of the discussion. This category goes beyond formal armed combat if one includes technologies that tend to exertstate control or monitoring on the public, such as surveillance technologies and the violation of privacy by various technical means.
In 2009, a special section of five articles appeared on the topic of lethal robots and their implications for ethical use in war and peace keeping operations (Gueron, 1984). And in 2010, the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in espionage and surveillance was addressed in a special issue on “Überveillance,” defined by authors M.G. Michael and K. Michael as the use of electronic means to track and gather information on an individual, together with the “deliberate integration of an individual’s personal data for the continuous tracking and monitoring of identity and location in real time” (Mackenzie, 1984).
2) Energy and related technologies and issuesThe larger implications of global warming apparently escaped the attention of the authors, focused as they were on the power generating needs of the state of Minnesota. By 1990, the greenhouse effect was of sufficient concern to show up on the legislative agendas of a number of nations, and although Philip C. Cruver attributed this to the “explosion of doomsday publicity,” he assessed the implications of such legislation for future energy and policy planning (Cruver, 1990). Several authors in a special issue on the social implications of systems concepts viewed the earth’s total environment in terms of a complex system in 2000 (Allenby,2000).
3) Computing, Telecommunications and CyberspaceIn the early years, computers were primarily huge mainframes operated by large institutions. But with the personal-computer revolution and especially the explosion of the Internet, Society of social implication of science and technology has done its part to chronicle and examine the history, present state, and future trends of the hardware, software, human habits and interactions, and the complex of computer and communications technologies that are typically subsumed under the acronym of ICT.
As the Internet grew, so did the volume of papers on all sorts of issues it raised, from the implications of electronic profiling (Mackenzie, 1984) to the threats and promises of facial recognition technology (Baranauskas, 1983).
4) Underprivileged GroupsThis includes demographic groups such as women and ethnic minorities and those disadvantaged by economic issues, such as residents of developing countries. While the young and the ill are not often formally recognized as underprivileged in the conventional sense, in common with other underprivileged groups they need society’s help in order to survive and thrive, in the form of education and health care, respectively.
In summary, there are several implications of science. Within this virtual realm, social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat have altered the way Generation Y culture is understanding the world and thus how they view themselves. In recent years, there has been more research on the development of social media depression in users of sites like these. “Facebook Depression,” as some have deemed, is when users are so affected by their friends’ posts and lives that their own jealousy depletes their sense of self-worth. They compare themselves to the posts made by their peers and feel unworthy or monotonous because they know that their life is not nearly as exciting as others’.
Another instance of the negative effects of science and technology in society is how quickly it is pushing younger generations into maturity. With the world at their fingertips, children can learn anything they wish to. But with the uncensored sources from the internet, without proper supervision, children can be exposed to explicit material at inappropriate ages.
This comes in the forms of premature interests in experimenting with makeup or opening an email account or social media page—all of which can become a window for predators and other dangerous entities that threaten a child’s innocence.