In analyzing points raised by Emmanuel G. Mesthene in his essay The Role of Technology in Society, he makes two major points, those being that technology can be both diminutive and advantageous, creating new opportunities while also creating new problems, and that the negative effects of technology can be traced to the threat to traditional values and what those effects are beginning to cost us from a traditional standpoint.
His first point is echoed by Rudi Volti in Society and Technological Change when Volti details the introduction of aspirin to society as a means of suppressing fevers, a noble goal, inhibitive of the body’s natural way of fighting infections, thus creating new problems while solving one. Volti points also to the adoption of the telegraph wire serving to push the Pony Express out of business, thus creating new jobs as telegraph workers while displacing Pony Express workers. Yet another example he cites is the technology brought about in answer to problems in urban areas in the early 20th century, including technologies that “made urban life more tolerable, most notably those concerned with public health and sanitation”, then he extends that to the automobile and its effects on society. The automobile helped many to escape the urban areas while creating the suburbs, urban sprawl, increases in traffic fatalities, and serving as a major cause of pollution. While many technologies create new jobs or make our lives seemingly better, they do so at a cost, either in jobs lost in other sectors, displacement of workers forced to find other employment when a technology makes their jobs obsolete, or forcing us to deal with the side effects of technology, such as solid waste disposal and pollution, as can be witnessed in the mining and power industries, where strip mining has wrought environmental hazards and coal burning is contributing to global climate change..
Mesthenes’ second point, that technology threatens traditional values, is illustrated by the experiences of the Yir Yoront of Australia. These aborigines’ highest technological advancement had been the stone axe, which had been limited to ownership by the males of the tribe. These axes were also status symbols. According to Volti, this all changed in the 20th century when missionaries gave out steel axes as presents to all members of the tribe deemed worthy, including women and children. As a result, the men in the tribe lost their status within the culture, subsequently bringing about a cultural deterioration and apathy in the tribe. Mesthene also points out numerous communities whose economic base was a specific technology that was displaced by newer technologies, such as the replacement of the steam engine in favor of the diesel engine, which all but closed down a town in Nevada.
These examples serve to underline the central theme made by Mesthene that technology cannot be objectively viewed as being all good or all evil. Technology can serve us, and it can be the cause of headache. We, as a people, must decide if the risks and the losses in cultural or economic areas are worth the investment required of new technology.
 Teich, Albert H. Technology and the Future, 11th (Wadsworth Cengage Learning), p. 81.
 Volti, Rudi, Society and Technological Change (New York, Worth Publishers, 2006), p.7.
 Volti, p.18.