Free Critical Thinking About An Analysis Of Information Technology’s Effects To The Industry
Information technology has reached new heights of affecting human lives more than ever to the point that the fear of human labor not being needed in many industries has become a growing concern. It seems that the point where machines are slaves to humans have been surpassed since its developments has enabled it to do the functions of humans in a relatively more desired way, at least in the point of the company’s executives employing it, since it brings the three industrial disciplines of measurement, standardization and speed into the office place. What was once seen only in factories is now being applied to different economic fields such as health care and financial services. This change is slowly growing across the globe, and is affecting different aspects of the society which this paper will study. Specifically, it will compare the effect of information technology to China and the United States’ economic, social, legal and political forces.
Understanding the effect of information technology to the society must be grounded on understanding how much impact it can really make, thus is the need to allot an explanation for it. As stated earlier, information technology has reached new heights because of its ability to overtake the services that was once only done by humans. This is possible because of the Computer Business Systems (CBS) software which has the power to micromanage the works of a single or a team of employees. It derives its power due to its three aspects: data warehouses, data marts and expert system. Data warehouses are amalgrams of different technologies that if is combined enables the system to perform complex tasks. Data marts on the other hand cleans and order the data from the data warehouses and uses it for evaluating performances in real time while making sure that it is in line with the matrices given by the management. Lastly is the expert system which is capable of copying human intelligence. Together, this three creates a very powerful system that enables the management of a company to apply their vision in the exact manner that they want it applied. Moreover, because of the Internet, the management is able to account the workings of the company whenever and wherever they want.
Economists are continuously interested in the equilibrium condition of a market especially in increasing this equilibrium towards a higher point for it promises higher utility, higher income for both suppliers and consumers and a general increase in society’s welfare. One of the drivers of this increase is technological change which is the main thesis of the book, Mindless and its chapter discussing the Chinese Model: the role of information technology (IT) in the development of the economy, in particular that of computer business systems (CBS). This effect is drawn from the increase in efficiency that new and better technology may bring. However, nothing is altogether good for an increase in welfare does not automatically mean that it trickles down towards every sector of the society. There is often a losing and a winning side. In the United States the grates manifestation of this is income disparity. Since CBS already promises the ability of control over the workplace, there is less labor that a company needs leaving only the menial jobs available for laborers. For the top executives of a company, this is good news for it requires a smaller and cheaper amount of labor cost which translates to higher income. For the laborers and even lower ranked managers however, this extracts a great toll for this means lower chances of being hired and lower income. An evidence of which is the growing percentage of the service industry which may indicate that those who originally wanted to be in the top positions cannot find themselves work in companies that are ran by CBS and the like that they opt to transfer in jobs where labor is highly needed and is almost impossible to be automated. From this, the pattern towards income disparity is already quite easy to follow: lower paying jobs leads to a relatively lower income while lower cost, for companies, leads to higher income.
There is a saying that God made the heavens and the Earth and the rest was created by China. While this was intended as a pun it is not entirely untrue for China is becoming the next big economy and it is due to the fact that they are producing most of the goods that is being consumed by the rest of the world. The manufacturing sector of China is highly invested on mass cheap labor that labor has to extend the normal boundaries thus explains the reason why China has been a major importer of it and the talks of child labor. The experiences of the US have long been a norm in the Chinese economy. Since they are into manufacturing, investment in CBS is huge and continuously growing. There is no need for further evidences in the economic impact of information technology in China for the increase in menial labor is evidence enough. In this light parallelism with the US can be found for both are shifting towards a different set of job availability.
Society is continuously affected by technology for daily life progress in the same pace with available technological sources. Take communication for example. Before, communication has been though letters which moved the need for postal stations. Slowly however communication required less of the rigorous process of mail preparations for telephones became available and now to cellphones, skype and chat applications. These improvements in technology greatly impacted the behavior of human living. Currently, technology is taking over most of human chores from household to large companies.
In the United States, the workplace has been changed by CBS in such a way that everything is monitored and instructed as to how the executives envisioned it making the labor force a part of the relatively mechanical process of production. In the health care business for example, there are health maintenance organizations (HMO) which aid in the prescription process of a patient. Even with a doctor’s required treatment, in the event that the HMO deem it inappropriate, the treatment shall not be billed which requires the doctor to alter it according to what the HMO requires. Another example is the call center business where agents are required to follow a specific set of answers to the client’s concern and the necessary solutions for it. These changes resemble that of the assembly lines of the mid-nineteenth century where each worker has a required set of instructions that must be carefully followed for the whole line to work. Not only does CBS change the general working conditions of the workers, but the hierarchy that the workplace follows. More companies are altering their processes inclined towards the need of menial laborers than that of higher paid position workers. Therefore, even with a higher education, no special treatment is given as the work provided is the same. This creates a greater division between the superiors and the workers for intermediary managers are not anymore employed.
Given the intensive manufacturing sector of China, the divisions in classes are far greater for what the US experiences as simply a change of labor demand is a change in labor rights in Chinese factories. China’s workplace is an assembly line plucked out of the early ages and placed in the modern world. In fact, news of maltreatment and low to no benefits are prolific. This is probably the most bothering effect of IT development, albeit implicitly: the abuse towards the laborers. Since these laborers are constantly bombarded in keeping with the technology they are using, taking breaks or leaves has a big toll on them. One form of this abuse is the draining of the laborers to the point that they are physically, mentally, and emotionally wasted. An example of this is the report of seventeen Foxconn employees who attempted suicide. This gave rise to many questioning the Chinese tactics on their relationship with their employees. Up to date however, no report was given to the proceedings of the laborers. Another issue was the case of the seven girls who became mentally insane because of the pressure experienced at work wherein they were scolded and shamed for the most minor of mistakes.
Politics in most countries are the same for it all boils down to the gains that a political agent will get given the resources that he/she manages. The effect of politics to the current status of technology is subtle and implicit. The link between the two can be found on the international relations of acquiring technology and the economic benefits gathered from this relationship. Politics however is not just present in the government, but in the companies itself. Both are presented in this paper.
Generally, policies are created for the greater good, but when money is involved legislation is determined by the amount of income that can be generated from the sector that is favored. In the United States for example there is a growing concern for the lack of job creation which is an indirect effect of CBS; and yet legislation biased towards the business elites can still be found. The government tends to support these elites for they bring the income that is much needed for government expenses.
In China on the other hand, is where the international relations part of politics is more manifested. Manufacturing business is due to the demand of the market. Supplying this demand however needs investments that oftentimes cannot be provided by businessmen in the country alone thus is the need for foreign investors. In this case foreign investments come directly for companies such as Foxconn who directly invests on the creation of factories in the country. There are however restrictions to this, such as permits. This is where politics comes in. They make it possible hasten and ease the entry of these investors in exchange for the profit that they may give to the country.
In both countries, the politics within the company is very much present. The delineation between the workers and the management is apparent as shown in the evidences of income disparity and labor benefits. Of course, the power is held by the management and this in turn is monitored by the new technology and is simply followed by the workers.
Legal forces in both the United States and China come in the form of the legislations that protect the ease of transactions with regards to CBS. In this light, both countries are favoring indirectly the influx of this new technology by skewing policies biased towards their respective business elites. In China for example, instead of creating laws that will hinder the malpractices in the laborers of the manufacturing sector, they even opt to create policies that opens up the economy for foreign direct investment and trade.
Both the United States and China experienced the same shift towards CBS. In America however, growth was not experienced as well as that of China. This is because America is generally a consumer country. Meaning their gross domestic product is boosted by consumption. The lower income due to technological advancement however led to Americans having less for consumption and this significantly affected the GDP of the country.
It is clear in this paper that the losing end of IT advancement is shouldered by the laborers of the manufacturing industry. It is of great question then on how to protect them given the inevitable development of technology as evidenced by the reliance of the majority in it. To answer this, public welfare must be taken into account. The issue with it however is the presence of situations where no party is willing to shoulder the cost of being in the losing end of IT advancement. In these cases it is where the role of the government comes in. The market, when left alone has an invisible hand that guides it towards reaching equilibrium where no party is made worse-off; but when this invisible hand fails, it is where the government may best exert its effort.