Descent to the Dark Side of Carelessness.

The technological fix has solved countless issues in the past century. In places where politics, economics, and education fixes failed, the technological fix prevailed. Johnston’s article provided us with the streetcar example, a situation in which every answer failed until engineers redesigned the cars to be safer. Douthwaite argues that technological fixes can also be applied to social issues. Technological fixes are often ‘quick’ fixes, and as Johnston would argue, cause more problems than they solve. In the case of fixes such as human genetic engineering, technological fixes are morally questionable. These quick fixes are often short sighted, with the once vaunted DDT causing severe ecological damage. The ecological damage caused by DDT is an unintended consequence, killing insects that were part of a greater picture. The Huesemann argument would contain some similarities to Johnston, one similarity is implementing a solution before we understand the consequences.


Like other solutions to a problem, technological fixes may have repercussions, sometimes disastrous. These disastrous repercussions may occur from two primary reasons. Shortsightedness on the part of humans, one instance resulting in the disaster of DDT, and naive confidence. The shortsightedness comes from our failures to consider all of the variables in an environment, resulting in short-term benefits that have long-term detriments. Naive confidence is tied into shortsightedness, as being overconfident leads to people being careless. Carelessness leads to short sightedness, in turn leading to the solution turning into a problem. These problems are more intense today than in the past, as people are accustomed to having things immediately. Good solutions take time, and impatience is the enemy of “taking your time.”

1 thought on “Descent to the Dark Side of Carelessness.”

  1. I like how you relate the negative repercussions of technological fixes to our increasingly instant-gratification-oriented society. Your “naïve confidence” point is also very valid, and in a way relates to the academic military industrial complex we discussed in class today. As big science became more popularized and powerful, and as the people’s trust in these corporations grew, the minds behind the science may have focused less on the consequences of their “progress.” I’m looking forward to exploring this dynamic more this week and in future readings.

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