Wired for Failure?

Huesemann and Huesemann refer to the negative effects of technological advancement as “unavoidable” and “intrinsically unpredictable”. (p.15) Essentially, the few positive results that are gained through technological fixes aren’t worth the larger negative consequences that will eventually take place as a result of disrupting and attempting to overpower our natural place in the world. Johnston introduces the problems with technological fixes by considering the “cultural, ethical, and political dimensions” of such methods. (p.52) He argues that both historically and currently, scientists have gone about trying to fix social issues through a narrow and simplistic scientific lens. This approach can’t possibly provide an adequate solution to such complex problems in a multi-dimensional society.

Human-kind is gaining more and more knowledge every day, but it remains a tiny fraction of everything there is to know about the world and the intricate relationships within it. It’s simply impossible to fully predict the outcomes of introducing new technology. Even if it could be predicted, the perspective of “positive” and “negative” effects differ wildly among different people with varying values and ethics. For instance, the invention of many life-saving technologies is pivotal and important to virtually everyone. However, it’s contributed to the massive increase of people on the earth, which has proven to be environmentally negative. Unintended consequences shouldn’t halt technological advancement in its tracks, but it should demand a new mindset. Scientific innovation shouldn’t be replacing social scientists with engineers, but rather make social science more important than ever. The increase of technological power should bring about more studying, care, and deliberation to decide if technology should be used as an attempt to fix our problems. It’s foolish to think technology can fix such a complex system. However, it’s arguably impossible, and perhaps equally foolish to try and eradicate technological fixes altogether.

One thought on “Wired for Failure?”

  1. I completely agree with what you have written. It is impossible to solve every issue facing society and the environment with technology, just as it is impossible to predict all of the negative repercussions of these technological fixes. What a negative consequence is to some, may be a positive consequence to others, which creates a grey area in between what is a negative side effect and what isn’t. We definitely need to attempt to prevent the more agreed upon negative consequences that may come about as a result of this new technological fix, as well as understand why the negative consequences came about so that we may learn for future technological fixes. Clearly it is impossible to cure all issues with technology, even temporary, and it is impossible to predict every single potential negative outcome. But we can do our best to solve social issues through advancements in technology just as we can try our best to prevent negative consequences. It is foolish to believe that eradicating technological fixes all together would be a benefit to society, way more negative consequences would come out of eradicating technological fixes than all of the current technological fixes negative consequences combined.

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