Technology as a Cure-All?

  1. Sean Johnson may critique Jeff Douthwaite’s argument that technological fixes are necessary to solve social problems by saying that technological fixes require careful study to determine who ultimately benefit from the fixes, and who (perhaps many degrees removed from the “fix”) may suffer from them. The Huesemann’s might argue that humans are simply unable to improve upon nature, because it will continually rebound on us, ultimately causing more problems. Negative consequences, often unanticipated, may not be obviously connected to the original “fix,” and the authors argue that the negative may not outweigh the positive if we consider all the possible factors.
  2. Technological fixes to social and environmental systems have negative repercussions because we are simply not able to see all the far-reaching consequences. Similarly, a technological fix that works in one year, one decade, or one generation may be detrimental for the next year, decade, or generation. However, I would have to agree with Douthwaite’s statement: “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.” Technological fixes can be used to “buy us time” to understand ourselves, our society, and the consequences of the technological fix.