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Grad student maps out the technology timeline of the U.S.

Nathaniel Gonzalez is studying the impact of technology on American culture

| Author: Hadlee Rinn | Media Contact: Kara Owens

Nathaniel Gonzalez, a graduate student studying history, is researching how technology impacted Americans in the twentieth century. Gonzalez is investigating the history of culture and ideas in America from 1950 to 2005 using books and movies and the scholarly articles published about them. 

The goal of Gonzalez’s research is to establish technology as a “significant historical factor” in scholarly conversations surrounding the contemporary intellectual history of the United States. Gonzalez also hopes his research will be helpful in discussions of new technologies, like ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot which has gained attention for its detailed responses on a variety of subject areas.  

Gonzalez says, “I want to see the public's thoughts about each decade’s technology. […] From the 1970s to the present, the public has favored soft sci-fi. They usually only like books or movies without much intellectual depth and have mixed feelings about technological progress. There is a wide gap between the sci-fi the everyday American consumes and that consumed by [technologically savvy individuals].” 

In his research, Gonzalez has found varying degrees of positive and negative opinions on technology. Gonzalez says, “There have been those who have been highly confident that technology will eventually fix everything, those who have held very negative views about how technology has or will affect society, and just about everything in between.” However, many Americans seem to accept the new technology which is becoming widely available to the public.  

This story is brought to you by the  Office of Research and Graduate Studies.