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The Importance Of Sociotechnical Systems Essay

1584 words - 6 pages

Sociotechnical systems play an integral role in life today; their presence is always growing as civilization continues to create and to innovate technology. A set of values influences each sociotechnical system, whether that is through embodying or omitting those values. In either case, it is known that no system is perfect, and that injustices are bound to happen to the actors within the system. The integration of society with technology has created countless sociotechnical systems, each one influenced by its own set of values and containing its own injustices.
Prior to researching outside sources, using the information presented in class, a sociotechnical system is a system that deals with both technology and society, meaning they are intertwined in some way. Upon further research “a sociotechnical system (STS) is a social system operating on a technical base” (Whitworth and Ahmad 2013). This indicates that a sociotechnical system is a way people can interact in some fashion, using technology to do so. This resembles SCOT in that a specific set of actors influences the sociotechnical system. Actors are “any person or group that can make a decision how to act and that can act on that decision” (Poel and Royakkers 25). To better understand the sociotechnical system it is important to focus on the components that represent the system, which are the following: hardware, software, physical surroundings, people, procedures, laws and regulations, and data ("Socio-Technical System"). The components can be used to describe different levels of interaction between technology and society. The most basic level would be the technological level which consists only of the hardware and has no interaction with society (Whitworth and Ahmad 2013). The next level would be the IT level, which consists of both hardware and software but still no user, so therefore no interaction with society (Whitworth and Ahmad 2013). Adding human interaction to the IT level, defines the next level, denoted HCI (Human Computer Interaction), which consists of a person, software, and hardware (Whitworth and Ahmad 2013). This level is still not a sociotechnical system however because there is only one person and that person is not interacting with other persons. The last level, sociotechnical system, is one that contains software, hardware, and a network of people interacting using said software and hardware (Whitworth and Ahmad 2013). A somewhat complex example of one of these systems would be Bitcoin, an electronic payment system based in digital currency (Stevenson 1). Bitcoin allows two parties to exchange money electronically in a way that is anonymous by assigning users a numeric sequence to use as their identity, which is in no way linked to real world identity ("Bitcoin: Overview"). Comparing this to the description of the sociotechnical system level above, Bitcoin has a network of people interacting using software and hardware. The hardware in this case...

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