ISociety project to debunk technology myths

Industrial Society -- backed by Microsoft -- launches three year investigation to show that technology is not ruining our lives

A major investigation into the way information technology affects our lives was launched by the Industrial Society on Thursday.

The iSociety project will examine the relationship between ICT (Information Communication Technology) and society, and hopes to debunk the myths that technology is ruining relationships and creating unbearable workplace stress. It will also examine whether technology can really be the panacea to all our problems and offer a glimpse into the future of technological change.

An Industrial Society survey commissioned for the launch has found that 78 percent of people believe technology has increased the availability of information, made life busier (67 percent), helped fight crime (65 percent) and improved healthcare (52 percent). People appear ambivalent still about the benefits of technology -- 40 percent disagreed that it reduced workloads but over a half felt technology was unfairly blamed for society's ills.

Interestingly, 35 percent of respondents (1,000 people were interviewed) believe that technology is increasing the amount of friends people have: 80 percent thought that technophobic prime minister Tony Blair regularly uses email. "There is something schizophrenic in our attitudes to ICT and better quality research is urgently needed," said project co-ordinator Richard Reeves.

Chief executive of the Industrial Society Will Hutton believes the project will map the true impact of ICT on society in Britain. "ICT is bringing about profound changes in the way we work, socialise and communicate with friends and family. It is the critical social and economic question of the 21st century," he said.

The project is being funded by Microsoft.

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