In his commentary “The Terrible Temptation of the Technological Fix, Huethwaite confidently argues for a world in which every problem can be fixed, or at the very least delayed, by technology. He’s being naïve. As the Johnston and the Huessemanns would argue, our inventions don’t operate in a vacuum. There are always moral, cultural, ethical outside considerations to take into account. Huethwaite seems to take the stance that science, and technology, is pure, infallible, and that its people who corrupt it. However, those doing science and inventing have their own personal and/or cultural biases. Hypothetically, say a group of factory workers in 1850’s England has tuberculosis. The doctor comes along and gives them a shot and cures them. This is the technological fix. Theyre technically fixed, however, by ignoring the social problems causing the spread of tuberculosis, that is the close quarter and deplorable conditions of their factory jobs, the problem is sure to surface again, possibly even worse than before.
Technological fixes to social, cultural and environmental problems don’t work because they ignore the root of the problem, or the interconnectedness of everything. For example, the introduction of the mongoose to Hawaii to reduce the rat population. Makes sense, mongoose are predators, rats fall into a prey category. However, the unintended result of their introduction was the dual predation, rats and mongoose, of Hawaii’s native bird population. Birds that were essential to spreading the pollen of native flowers in an insect poor environment. Since the arrival of the rat and the mongoose, the native bird population has been decimated resulting in an enormous loss of biodiversity in one of the more unique areas of the world. We can see this in even modern times with the introduction of the cane toad to Australia and resulting environmental destruction. Far from condemning technological solutions, we should seek technological solutions in tandem with humanistic ones.