Wrath of the Techno-Fix

Jeff Douthwaite believes that the majority of our societal issues can be fixed through advancements in technology. Douthwaite states on page 32 of his article, The Terrible Temptation of the Technological Fix, “Whatever the moral, ethical, or legal implications of a technological fix, if it works even temporarily to solve an important social problem, then it is an important contribution.” His main point in the article is that technology can at least buy us some time while we try to solve the issues through the social sciences, regardless of the unpredicted negative, moral or ethical repercussions. In Sean F. Johnson’s article The Technological Fix as Social Cure-All, he explains some less controversial ways that technology has permanently influenced society such as in the invention of radio, which according to Johnson has educated, entertained and unified the nation. He also talks about the advancements in travel, such as motor vehicles and aircraft. Unlike Douthwaite, Johnson believes that we need to be careful and be held responsible regarding the technological fixes we choose to entertain, and that we must not just consider the benefits of the technological fix. Likewise, Michael Huesemann and Joyce Huesemann have a similar thought to Johnson. In their article Techno Fix- Why Technology Won’t Save Us or the Environment, Michael and Joyce Huesemann state, “We have to continuously be vigilant for the possible occurrence of negative side effects of innovative technologies.”

There are many issues surrounding the environment as well as our society. Although there have been many great technological achievements throughout history that have made an enormous positive impact on the world as a whole, I think it would be ignorant for us to believe that there is a technological solution to solve every single one of our environmental and social issues we face today. I whole heartedly believe that we should not ignore the unintended consequences of technological fixes, but that we should be extremely vigilant in trying to understand and think through any negative consequences before we proceed with the technological fix. If the benefits outweigh the anticipated negative consequences, then it is something to consider. If the negative consequences could potentially exceed the benefits, maybe we should not move forward with that specific technological fix, and should instead pursue a different path. Obviously not all consequences of a technological fix can be predicted, there will always be some negative consequences, they are unavoidable and sometimes unpredictable, but it is my belief that we must do our best.

4 thoughts on “Wrath of the Techno-Fix”

  1. The problem with technological fixes, is that no matter how hard we think about the negative side effects of technology, we can never think of all the possible ways that technology could impact daily lives and modern culture. History is full of inventions that were made for one purpose but is now used for a completely different purpose, sometimes these are for the positive but there are always going to be negative consequences for societies actions. Technology is always going to be around, the main issue is not overcompensating with technology, when the problem at hand is one that focuses on the social aspect of the world. Its easier to say, lets fix a problem with science rather than reflecting on how we see ourselves in the world.

  2. I greatly appreciate your input on interpreting the articles this week and find your points quite insightful. You seem to have a rather strong understanding how there will always be some unintended consequences from implementing technological fixes in our society but also recognize the great benefits they have also given us. Referring to your closing comments on trying our best to be cautious and aware of the many unpredictable problems which could occur; how might you suggest overcoming this obstacle in order to widen our scope of understanding about these environmental and social systems and the ways which they are interconnected? My opinion isn’t that we should strive to understanding EVERY outcome of technological fixes or implement more. Surely we are not going to exile technology as a source of solutions for modern day problems so I am curious how we can better approach these problems and possible solutions with the right questions to attempt at doing “our best”.

  3. I agree with the point you made about how it would be ignorant for us to believe there will be a technological fix for everything. Technology will always be around and always changing, but I think what we tend to forget is that sometimes things just don’t have a technological cure. You’re right that technology will always have unintended consequences, but how would you think to fix this issue? Should we address those unintended consequences with more technology, or just scrap the technology that created those issues in the first place? The question is always going to be will the positives outweigh the negatives, but, even if the positives do outweigh those negatives, are those negatives worth risking in the first place? While we are not going to scrap all technology in favor of living technology free lives, we have to wonder where we draw the line for our technological fixes. 

  4. The way you acknowledge some of the less detrimental technological advancements cited in Johnson’s article really contributes to the conceptualization that although technological advancements are inevitable, they are not inevitably bad. We as a society are far too reliant on technology at this point to stop altogether. I think your blog post offers a good in between realm for those that fear progress and those that endorse it. Truly, we cannot completely halt the sciences and I do not know what the ultimate solution is. I do however, appreciate your utilitarian ethical stance, and it does certainly have a place in this discussion. A utilitarian mindset offers perhaps the best mode of thought in terms of pros and cons. We have to see where things go though I suppose.

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