Impact of Technology on Society Paper


Impact of Technology on Society Paper – Due November 29, 2012
Write a short paper of 7-10 pages (double spaced and not counting the Works Cited, abstract, and table of contents) describing the impact of technology on society using one of the topics within your assigned category (see below) as an example to illustrate how a single technology or type of technology can transform the way a society functions economically, socially, or politically and/or how it can impact the health and welfare of a society or the environment. The potential topics are listed on the National Academy of Engineering website as the “Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century” ( You may use this website as a starting point for your topic, but you must incorporate at least two other sources (references) as well. Make sure the references you use are proper academic references.
• Telephone
Content of your paper:
The content of your paper should consider the following ideas, organized into appropriate sections:
• What is the technology? How does it work?
• How did society function prior to the wide-spread use of the technology or its first use?
o You should consider how society functioned politically, socially, and economically. o Consider the state of people’s health and welfare.
o Consider the state of the environment.
o Consider these ideas in the context of the technology – think about how people
engaged in the relevant activities before the invention (e.g., How did people travel long distance before the invention of the airplane? How often did they travel long distance, etc.?)
• How did society come to function after the wide-spread adoption of the technology?
o You should consider what changed about how society functioned politically, socially,
and economically.
o Consider these ideas in the context of the technology and what it is used for.
• Consider the impacts on people’s health and welfare.
• Consider the impacts on the environment.
• Provide a balanced discussion – include examples of both the positive and negative
• You might express an opinion as to whether the positives outweigh the negatives or vice
versa. Be sure that you have carefully considered the impacts on society if the technology were no longer available. Briefly discuss alternatives. Make sure that you explain your reasons for your opinion – they should be based on the facts you’ve presented. (Note that you do not necessarily have to make an evaluation. This can be more of a descriptive paper than an analytical paper.)
• Use good examples and statistics to support your claims. For example, don’t speculate about what life would be like without the technology – give some good statistics on how much the technology is used so that you can show what sort of impact it would have if we did not use it anymore.
• If your opinion is that we should get rid of the technology, suggest what alternatives we might use.
• Think globally – getting rid of cars might be quite feasible in large, urban centres in warm climates, but it is an entirely more significant problem to do so in rural Saskatchewan in the winter.
• Be sure to use up-to-date information throughout the paper (e.g., don’t base your assessment of the environmental impact of refrigerants on the chemicals that were used in the 1970s and 1980s).
• What does the example of the impact of technology on society that you topic provides suggest about how engineering should be practiced? (This section can be quite short.)
Note that there might not be enough room in a 7-10 page paper to cover all of the above topics and ideas. You might, then, choose to only briefly mention some topics while choosing others to expand on as examples. Which ones you choose to expand on will depend on which you can get more information about and which you feel will make the strongest examples to support your points. As an example, your topic might have had very little impact on the environment but a huge impact on people’s health; in such a case, you should focus on the health impacts and you don’t even need to mention the environment. The ideas listed above are just suggestions for things for you to think about as you research your topic. What you choose to write on will depend on what you learn about the impact your technology has had on society.
Proper Sources
This is a research paper, not an opinion-based paper, so you need to use references to support your points, and the references should be incorporated into the text appropriately. Use good academic sources. You may use the Greatest Engineering Achievements website as a source but the facts from it should be verified with at least one other source. However, given the nature of this assignment, it is likely that you will need to use more than one other source, so I am asking you to use a minimum of three different sources (including the Greatest Engineering achievements website).