I had a friend that made an assertion that “Increases in technology have over time led to reduction in quality of goods and services.” An innocuous statement made in passing, it however provoked deeper thinking on my part.
While data seems to suggest that with time there is a reduction in quality of goods and services, are technological breakthroughs responsible for this?
This is a project and operations management affair that ties up with economic, social and a million other factors that I would do my best to adequately capture in this article. I hope you find it enlightening.
Firstly, correlation does not mean causation. The fact that we experience fall in quality at the same time when technology seems to be on the rise, doesn’t mean that the rise in technology is the cause for the fall in quality.
Technology in fact defines the more efficient way to get things done. Technology saves time, energy, money and resources and proffers simpler and better ways to get things done. In spite of our obsession with gadgets and tools, if they fail to achieve efficiency, they cannot be tagged “technology.” Technology when applied improves quality, rather than reduces it.
The relationship between technology and quality would is a lot more complex, multifaceted and multifactorial that merely assuming that one affects the other in inverse proportion.
For example, technology speeds up the usage rate of resources. With technology, more resources can be mined, processed and deployed. This can bring about scarcity and increase in costs due to increased unavailability of resources. In such situations, projects and businesses might be constrained to reduce quality to deliver on costs.
Economic and social factors can be causative factors also.
The economic downturn of 2016 brought about reduction in quality of most goods. That had nothing to do with technology.
Social environments that pay scant regards to quality can also bring about continual reduction in quality over time.
Perhaps the only area where I can see a direct relationship between rises in technology and fall in quality would be here:
Technology creates substitutes to deal with the scarcity of natural because of the increasing consumption of the population.
Substitutes synthetically contrived would hardly be of the same quality as its natural counterpart. Organic oranges versus laboratory oranges. Natural diamonds versus artificial diamonds. Robots versus human beings. And the list can go on and on.
Perhaps with work over time (more increases in technology) the laboratory contraptions may be made even better than the natural, but then, that would be a factor of time, research, and relentless work, and not of technology.
To state it better, with increases in technology, quality of the artificial might even be made better as long as quality remains a key constraint for the production or project team.
You’re welcome to share your thoughts on the matter. Thanks for reading.