A life without Google, Facebook, Windows, Amazon, and smartphones—this is a world that seems almost unthinkable today. Technology has transformed society, but how much have software engineers contributed to that?
Software engineers impact society by making life easier and more convenient through the programs and applications they create. They design digital tools to help address problems, improve communication, simplify tasks, and store data. Moreover, they help catalyze society’s development.
In a few decades, the abilities of computers and the benefits they bring to society have more than just doubled. Keep reading this article to understand the role software engineers play in this technological and societal advancement.
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A computer has two types of components – hardware and software. While hardware is the one we can touch, like the mouse or keyboard, it is the software aspect that makes computers truly functional. Software pertains to the programs, applications, and operating systems that keep machines going. The people behind them are software engineers or developers.
Software engineers create and maintain applications and programs such as mobile games, food delivery apps, and business apps. They also build computer networks and systems that allow the creation of applications. They use logic and programming languages to come up with these digital tools.
Computer-related jobs like software engineers or developers are more in demand as our world becomes increasingly digital. This digitization was evident during the pandemic, as everything – jobs, communication, school – transitioned to an online setup. At this time, software was crucial in providing people the means to do online what they used to do face-to-face.
Gadgets and the Internet have become intertwined with our society’s functions, so it would be difficult, if not impossible, to imagine our lives without them. The people behind these gadgets, their programs, and their further development are impactful and beneficial to society.
Software engineers impact society through the applications, programs, and systems they make. These help address problems, make life convenient, improve communication, and enable us to store large amounts of data. The beneficial effect of their work is that it hastens the development of society.
Many software engineers create applications and programs, and some of these goals are to solve pressing problems or issues. For instance, fossil fuel contributes significantly to climate change and other environmental issues.
Thus, people are calling for ways to help reduce its need. Software engineers respond to this call by helping other scientists and inventors to create electric cars that do not need fossil fuels and reduce gas emissions.
During the pandemic, a significant challenge was how to reduce face-to-face interactions to contain the virus better. People shifted to online setups to avoid virus exposure, but they could only successfully transition because of useful and effective software.
ZOOM, Slack, Google Meet, ClickUp, and Google Workspace are just a few of the applications and programs workers use and benefit from as they work online. As more people continue using them, more software developers and engineers are called on to fix bugs, maintain the programs, and add more features.
In one way or another, everyone has experienced how software has automated, simplified, or made life and daily tasks easier. For example, instead of dressing up and going out just to get your favorite meal, it only takes a few taps in the food delivery app to order and have it delivered.
Applications like MS Word or Google Docs also make typing documents and crafting presentations a more effortless and faster task than before. Imagine having to hand-write hundreds of pages!
Another essential product of software development is also artificial intelligence or AI. Virtual assistants such as Google Assistant or Alexa keep your shopping list updated. Not to mention your Spotify playlists. They are products of AI, and the people behind them are software engineers. Although yet to be perfected, they have so much potential to help the world.
Communication has taken a leap from ancient messengers and slow mail. Now, it only takes seconds for a friend to get your Twitter dm or Facebook message. You can find childhood friends and long-lost relatives on social media. One can now hold online classes through Zoom or Google Meet video calls.
Communication has dramatically improved because of these programs and applications, but its engineers and developers continue to work to develop and add more features. Every few months or so, the software engineers are behind all the updates that keep these programs up to date and keep them bug-free.
Businesses and companies rely heavily on data. They use it to analyze trends and make critical decisions. We even benefit from these large troves of information through Google, Facebook, and other platforms that allow us to retrieve data in mere seconds.
We also take advantage of our Cloud storage and Google Drives that can store many gigabytes of files. But these data do not often come in small, 16GB flash drives; they are in large amounts and are stored in large databases and devices. But what makes it all possible?
Large databases are products of the work done by software engineers. The computer systems and networks allow this information to be stored for the long term and easily retrieved when needed.
They also create programs to analyze this information much easier and faster than before. These people also maintain these networks and databases and ensure that they remain optimal.
The work that software engineers do has no doubt helped in the overall development of society. We have come from an era where computers were non-existent to a world where these gadgets have made tasks that take months to happen in a few minutes or years. The software allows for the automation of tasks and speeds up many processes.
Because of software’s convenience and advantages, many businesses and sectors have adapted to it. That is why software engineers are in demand even beyond the technological industry.
They can build codes and programs for hospitals, businesses, schools, and governments. They can also shape these products to fit the sector they are serving. Ultimately, their efforts and the sector’s work allow rapid progression and better development as they compartmentalize and focus.
It has also allowed us to achieve seemingly impossible tasks before – analyzing human genomes, developing medicines and products based on extensive data, and even landing on the moon. Margaret Hamilton, the woman who coined the term “software engineering,” recalls how her program allowed the Apollo 11 astronauts to achieve the victorious moon landing.
The effects and benefits of software that I have outlined above are just a few of the many things made possible. But, we should not place technology on a pedestal and deem them all to be good.
Software can be malicious if created for evil intents. The best example of such are computer viruses. Malicious software, also called malware, has caused extensive damage to individuals and institutions. The infamous 2000 “I LOVE YOU” virus caused billions of damages, affecting even the British Parliament and the Pentagon.
Software developers help society through the positive impact of software programs and applications. However, their work is only beneficial if they create these digital tools to be helpful and not malicious. The impact of software depends heavily on the developer and their ethics.
Software can be regarded as a double-edged sword – something beneficial and harmful, depending on its use. Thus, the Association for Computing Machinery has established a “Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice.”
They said code is in place to guide engineers in how they should develop their products, which is for the best of the public, their clients, and their professions. They should maintain integrity and quality in their work.
Software engineers positively impact and help society in a lot of ways. They create helpful digital tools that cater to society’s needs and address challenges. Their work also allows better communication, bringing the community closer than ever before. They make networks and systems that deal with large amounts of data.
The different sectors of society get to benefit from the products of software engineers. Their efforts allow the sectors to improve better and faster, resulting in the more rapid development of society.
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