Impact of Information and Communication Technology(ICT) on Society - Computer Studies Form 4 Notes

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Issues Resulting From The Use Of ICT

  • An impact is a positive or a negative effect. ICT sector, like any other sector has its positive and negative effects at different levels in society.
    1. Effects on employment.
    2. Effects on automated production.
    3. Issues of workers’ health.
    4. Environmental issues
    5. Cultural effects.
    6. Breakthrough in ICT.

Effects on employment:

  • The introduction of computers in the workplace has resulted in the following:
    1. Creation of new jobs.
    2. Replacement of computer illiterate workers.
    3. Displacement of jobs that were formerly manual.

Job Creation

  • It has introduced new employment opportunities that never existed before.
  • The use of computers in financial institutions, reservation systems, educational institutions, communications etc. has created new job titles such as computer operators, programmers, network administrators, It or IS managers, database administrators, software developers, system analysts etc.

Job replacement:

  • This is a situation whereby certain jobs disappear in an organization but reappear in another form requiring high skilled manpower.
  • Some clerical and repetitive tasks that required a large number of employees have been made redundant.
  • Computer illiterate people have been replaced with those who have the desired computer skills.

Job displacement:

  • An employee is moved to another place or department where computer skills are not required, especially those not willing to acquire new skills of using the computerized system.
  • To avoid losing competent employees, most employers organize in-service training for their employees on regular basis in order to help them keep up with the rapid changes in ICT.

Effects on automated production:

  • Refers to substituting mechanical and electronic devices for manual ones for more productivity i.e. the use of mechanical, electrical and electronic devices to improve the quality and speed of office work.
  • A number of manufacturing industries such as vehicle assembly plants, oil refineries and food processing companies are using computers to automate their processes with an aim of increasing production.
  • Computer controlled robots and assembly lines are a common feature in manufacturing industries.

Advantages of using automated production:

  1. Increased efficiency due to the balancing of workload and production capacity.
  2. Improved customer service because of adequate and high quality goods
  3. Faster which are produced in time.
  4. Efficient utilization of resources such as raw materials, personnel and equipment hence
  5. Less operating expenses incurred.
  6. Helped in reduction of accidents in sectors like mining and chemical production where much work is potentially hazardous.

Disadvantages:

  1. High initial cost of setting up an automated system.
  2. May lead to unemployment in some areas that are labour intensive.
  3. Possible lack of compatibility with software and hardware.
  4. Overreliance on automated systems leads to laziness.
  5. Resistance to change.

Reasons why employees may resist automated systems

  1. Fear of change: people are creatures of habits and hence are afraid of change.
  2.  Fear of losing their jobs: people usually associate the computer with loss of jobs and hence they will be afraid that they might end up loosing their jobs.
  3. Fear of failure: since the computer is very new in a given working environment, the people will be afraid that they might never adapt to it.
  4. Loss of control: the management will be afraid that once a computer is implemented they might lose control of the organization.
  5. Lack of understanding: the user may not understand the benefits of the computer system in their jobs; hence this will create resistance since the computer will be looked upon as an intruder.

Issues of workers health

  • Some of the negative effects of ICT on our health include:
    1. Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)
    2. Eye Strain and Headaches.
    3. Electromagnetic emissions.
    4.  Stress.
    5. Isolation.
    6. Radiation and visual display unit.
    7. Computer chip toxin.

Rsi – repetitive strain injuries

  • Injuries resulting from wrist, hand, arm and muscle strain, neck strains due to forced repetitive movement e.g. when entering data using keyboard.

Remedy for RSI:

  1. Resting.
  2. Sitting in a relaxed position.
  3. Changing typing techniques.

Eye strain and headaches:

  • Since computer users have their eyes at close range with the monitor, there is danger of developing computer vision syndrome (CVS).
  • The syndrome is characterized by:
    • Eye strain.
    • Headaches.
    • Double vision.
    • Fatigue.

Remedies:

  1. Use monitors with good resolution.
  2. Fit monitors with antiglare screens that filters excess light.
  3. Adjust the brightness of the screen to the intensity that is comfortable to the eyes.
  4. Use flat panel screens that do not emit so many radiations.
  5. Use good overhead fluorescence tubes.
  6. Avoid flickering monitors and lighting systems.
  7. Have interludes of rests.
  8. Tilt the monitors to a convenient position.

Electromagnetic emmisions:

  • These are waves of electrical and magnetic energy that are emitted by current carrying conductors.
  • Users are advised to use low emission devices in order to avoid exposing themselves to excess emissions.

Stress:

  • Mental stress is another compliant.
  • Many people who work at computer feel that they are expected to produce more and do it faster because computers themselves are fast.
  • Also those being monitored by computers frequently feel additional pressure.

Isolation:

  • People can conduct business and communication without ever coming face to face.
  • Computer operators can work an entire shift, taking their instructions from a computer screen, sending and receiving memos to each other electronically without engaging in personal conversation.
  • These people feel isolated from other workers.

Radiation and visual display unit:

  • There have been reports that VDU emits radiations that cause birth defects, blindness, cancer, miscarriages, sterility etc.

Computer chip toxin:

  • Workers in computer chip manufacturing industries are exposed to toxic chemicals that may pose health factors similar to those feared from VDU.

Ergonomics:

  • The science of designing the work place for the comfort and safety of the worker.
  • It is the study of how living and working conditions can be adapted to the information technology.
  • The need for better working environment has resulted to designing of special furniture to prevent backaches, and special monitors to prevent eye strain etc.

 

Environmental Issues:

Energy consumption and radiation:

  • Initially, computers consumed a lot of energy thereby generating a lot of heat and emitting electromagnetic radiations which are harmful to the user.

Remedy:

  • Electronic devices have to be energy star compliant launched by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to encourage minimal use of power by electronic devices.

Environmental issues:

  • Huge garbage dumps of dead computer parts, printers, ink toner cartridges, monitors and other computer accessories are disposed in landfills hence causing environmental pollution.
  • There has been concern on the disposal of Nickel-cadmium laptop batteries that contain toxic cadmium which when buried in a landfill can leak into underground water tables and catchment areas.

Cultural Effects

(i) Moral effects:

  • The rapid growth of ICT also presents challenges to our moral and cultural values.
  • ICT has changed the way we talk, affected our privacy, human rights and integrity.
  • Humans are exposed to flaming i.e. writing on-line messages that use derogatory, obscene or dirty language.
  • One can access and view pornographic materials that can lead to moral decadence.
  • The free flow of immoral information has negatively influenced the behavior of both young and old in the society.
  • To some extend, people with eroded integrity have used computers as a tool to accomplish their vices e.g. forging certificates, passports and other documents. This means that the person is cheating and therefore his/her moral integrity has been compromised.
  • On the contrary, ICT has been used as a campaign platform against diseases like AIDS and drug abuse.

(ii) Computer crimes:

  • This is the use of computer software for illegal purpose.
  • Computer related crimes such as hacking, eavesdropping, piracy are on the increase.

Types of computer crimes

  1. Data manipulation: Refers to altering data that enter or exit a computer e.g. changing data on a certificate.
  2. Time bomb: This is the coding of a computer program to destroy itself after it has been run a certain number of times.
  3. Computer virus: A program entered into a computer with the aim of destroying or altering data and spreading the destruction to other computers on a network.
  4. Trap door: Creating of a special password that gives its creator a sole access to the system.
  5. Data stealing: Using a computer to steal information that has been gathered for someone else for illegitimate purpose.
  6. Eavesdropping: Tapping without authorization into communication lines over which computer data and messages are sent.
  7. Industrial espionage: Using computer to steal designs, marketing plans or other trade secrets from one company and selling them to another company.
  8. Piracy: This is making unauthorized copies of copyrighted computer software.
  9. Fraud: This is the use of computers to cheat other people with the intention of gaining money or information.
  10. Sabotage: This is the illegal destruction of data and information with the aim of causing great loss to an organization.
  11. Logic bomb: It is a program that is executed when a certain set of condition is made e.g. a fired employee can load a logic bomb to a computer to destroy when records are updated in a database.

Breakthroughs in ICT:

- There have been a lot of breakthroughs in the fields of:

  • Health care.
  • Education.
  • Communication – fax, e-mail, internet.
  • Research.
  • Commerce – shipping imports and exports.
  • Art and design.
  • Entertainment – music, video, games.
  • Transport.

Evolution of computer systems:

Future trends in ICT will be characterized by:

  1. Rapid evolution in computer hardware and software.
  2. Artificial intelligence.
  3. Expanded information superhighway.

Rapid evolution in computer hardware and software

  • A lot of technological improvements have been made both in hardware and software since the introduction of computers.
  • Computers will be more intelligent, computers will be able to learn in their environment, understand human voice, respond etc.
  • Software will be more versatile and easier to use.
  • The silicon revolution has seen rapid increase in microprocessor speeds and capabilities due to advanced research in the semi-conductor industry.
  • Future trends will see reduction in size and cost of components but increase in capability.
  • Improvements in input, processing, storage, output and communication devices have led to faster, cheaper and more reliable data processing devices.
  • Industries will become more automated.
  • Microprocessors of a thumb’s size can now execute instructions in a trillionth of a second hence leading to emergence of smaller but smart devices.

Artificial intelligence (A.I.):

  • A branch of computer science that is concerned with the development of machines that emulate/copy/mimic human like qualities such as learning, reasoning, communicating, seeing and hearing.
  • The idea of AI developed from a need to develop computer programs that would even challenge human beings in playing games such as chess and scrabble.
  • Computer scientists and engineers are still working hard and carrying out intensive research with the aim of coming up with smatter computers which can almost simulate human thinking and learning, instead of relying on static programmed instructions.
  • There are 4 main application areas of AI namely:
    1. Expert systems.
    2. Natural language processing.
    3. Voice recognition.
    4. Voice synthesis.
    5. Computer vision
    6. Artificial neural networks.
    7. Robotics/perception systems

Expert systems:

  • This is software that is designed to make a computer operate at the level of a human expert in a specific narrow area of specialization.
  • Such software simulates/imitates the reasoning process of experts in certain well defined areas such as medical diagnosis, financial forecasting, maintaining locomotives, locating mineral deposits etc.

Components of an expert system:

  1. Knowledge base:
    - This is the database/store of knowledge about a particular subject. It contains relevant facts, believes, assumptions and procedures for solving a particular problem.
  2. Inference engine:
    - This is Software that controls the search for knowledge in the knowledge base and produces conclusions. It takes the problem posed/given by the user and seeks to analyze it in order to arrive at a conclusion.
  3. User interface;
    - This is the display screen that enables the user to interact with the system.

Examples of expert systems:

  1. MYCIN: used for diagnosis of blood and treatment of bacterial infections.
  2. DELTA: for maintaining locomotives.
  3. MUDMAN: predicting mineral deposits in geological exploration by analyzing composition of soil samples.
  4. STEAMER: training boiler room technicians in the navy.
  5. R-1 : designing computer systems for customers.

 

Advantages Of Expert Systems:

  1. They can perform some tasks much faster than a human being.
  2. They can easily identify faults in equipment
  3. The computer can store much more information than a human.
  4. The system gives impartial and consistent recommendations.
  5. The computer does not ‘forget’ or make mistakes.
  6. Data can be kept up to date.
  7. Always available 24 hours a day and will never retire.
  8. The system can be used at a distance over a network.

Disadvantages of expert systems:

  1. They can make mistakes and fail to learn from them.
  2. They work best when the problem is specific and well defined hence complex and costly to design.
  3. They lack human touch i.e. they can’t be questioned further.
  4. Heavy use of them can make human experts lose their jobs.

Natural language processing:

  • Aimed at coming up with programming languages that would make computers recognize and understand natural languages, whether spoken or written.
  • Currently, there are voice recognition input devices and voice synthesizers are available but limited to just a few vocabularies.
  • Before using them, the computer program must be trained to recognize the voice and the pronunciation of words by the user.

Voice recognition:

  • This is a system that will allow voice input.
  • The user inputs data by speaking into a microphone.
  • A few systems cant satisfactory perform this task because of:-
    1. Words with similar sounds.
    2. Different people pronounce same words differently.
    3. One word has multiple meanings.
    4. Background noise etc.
  • Computers that can recognize and properly read human voice will make information systems and other computerized applications accessible to people who can’t enter data in the normal way i.e. blind, handicapped etc.

Voice synthesis:

  • These are machines that are able to create human voice or talk e.g. a computerized bank teller giving you your account balance in human like voice.

Computer vision:

  • Scientists hope to develop computers that will process and interpret light waves just as the human brain does.
  • Such systems would use scanning devices to sense and interpret objects, graphics and text character shapes.
  • It will allow a computer to see as humans do, read and interpret text in almost any format.

Artificial neural networks:

  • The use of electronic devices and software to emulate the neurological structure of the human brain.
  • The human brain works by receiving signals from special sensory cells called neurons.
  • When the neurons receive information, they either excite the cell to send a signal to the brain or not.
  • Artificial neurodes in artificial networks work in similar manner by perceiving environmental stimuli and hence deciding whether to pass it on to the system or not.
  • The essential attributes of an artificial neural networks are:
    1. The neurodes can be trained to distinguish between what constitutes a signal and what does not.
    2. They are capable of recognizing patterns in large amounts of data that are too complex for the human brain. From these patterns, they can make predictions and point out anomalies.

Example:

In banking, the pattern of credit card usage can be tracked over time to try and generalize spending patterns of individual card owners. Incase of loss or theft, the bank can notice the change of spending pattern and conclude that the card is in the wrong hands, hence take appropriate security measures even before loss of the card is reported.

Robotics/perception systems:

  • A robot is a computer controlled device that emulates a human being in carrying out tasks that would otherwise be dangerous and difficult.
  • Perception systems are sensing devices that emulate the 5 common sense of a human being i.e. sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.
  • Such devices would operate under the control of a microprocessor.
  • This development would give robots artificial senses including:
    1. Feeling the shape of an object.
    2. Listening to ultra sound.
    3. Detecting smell of leaking gas/chemicals.
    4. Testing quality of food.
    5. Seeing using two miniature video cameras.

 

Advantages Of Robots

  1. They can work 24/7 all year round without getting bored or taking a break.
  2. They can work faster than human.
  3. Productivity is very high.
  4. The output is of a consistently high quality.
  5. They can work to great degrees of accuracy than human workers.
  6. They can work in conditions that would appear hostile or dangerous to humans.

Disadvantages of robots:

  1. They are expensive to build, install and maintain.
  2. Not flexible as they are designed to do one job.
  3. The robot may malfunction and cause a lot of chaos or a batch of faulty goods.
  4. They take up the job of many people, leading to being sacked.
  5. Evil people may use robots in war to manipulate biological material.

The laws of robotics:

  1. A robot must not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must always obey orders given to it by a human being, except where it would conflict with the 1 st law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence, except where it would conflict with the 1 st and 2nd law.

Expanded information superhighway

  • Involves the integration of cabled and wireless technologies for the purpose of data and information transmission.
  • There is vast increase in throughput of various transmission media like fiber optic and wireless technologies.
  • Scientists have demonstrated a fiber optic cable whose diameter is the size of a single strand of hair which is capable of carrying a trillion bit per second
  • Internet is growing tremendously causing what is generally referred to as a growth of the information superhighway to digital explosion or hurricane.

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