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Do you agree or disagree with the following statement about technology and business:...

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Do you agree or disagree with the following statement about technology and business:

Thanks to computer-based technology, there is a deemphasis on things that are difficult to measure quantifiably, such as compassion, empathy, meaningful work, aesthetic beauty, and neighborliness. As a result, what has happened to higher-order virtues and noble goals such as peace, love, joy, prudence, and wisdom? Because these are difficult to measure with the computer-based software that has been developed so far, they are left outside the information deemed meaningful in organizations. When we do not look into the eyes of workers on the shop floor in low-income countries, we miss out on a whole lot of meaning, and our information systems have failed us.

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I would argue that this statement is partially, but not completely, true.  There are two aspects to this question.  First, there is the assertion that we have lost empathy, compassion, and other such things and we only care about things that can be measured.  Second, there is the assertion that this change has come about because of the ubiquity of computer-based technology.  I agree with the first of these assertions but not with the second.

I would argue that our loss of empathy and compassion does not come from computers.  Instead, I would argue that it comes about more because of globalization and competition.  There are at least two ways in which this is true.  First, the people who make the goods that we consume are no longer “like us.”  Your question refers to workers in low-income countries.  Today, so many of the goods we use are made in foreign countries by people with whom we do not feel much connection.  Therefore, we lack the same sort of empathy that we had when goods were being made by people like us.  Second, we lack empathy and consideration for things like aesthetics because it is harder to afford such things.  Today, if an American company (for example) shows empathy and values aesthetics, it is likely to lose business to a company that is using low-cost foreign labor.

Thus, I do agree that we have lost the values referred to in this statement.  However, I would argue that this is caused more by globalization and competition than by computer-aided measurement technology.

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