The Consequences of Narrowly Defined Systems

This week’s readings were very interesting as we heard from multiple perspectives on how technology should be implemented in society. More specifically, Douthwaite writes about how techno-fixes are “not a real solution” but believes they are ideas which must be entertained in order to give us time to understand the more deep-rooted issues we hope to understand in social sciences. Johnston certainly would agree with these statements as he writes about the importance which engineers of techno-fixes must evaluate and give great attention to the “scope of their analysis and longevity of their solutions”. Now what Johnston and Huesamann both criticize techno-fixes on deals with the idea of reductionism and it rather “narrowly defines the complexity of problems” (Johnston). Additionally, Huesamann stresses the importance of interconnectedness which plays a vital role in these complex systems. More descriptively they use examples of global cycles which naturally occur through physical, chemical, and biological processes at different magnitudes. In relation to these extreme levels of interconnectedness present on Earth, Huesmamann makes the argument that techno-fixes only further separates humankind’s understanding of attachment to the natural world and thus ignorant to the implications which are stated to be undeterminable and unavoidable.

With that said I believe the reason why technological fixes to social and environmental problems have negative repercussions is because our world and society can’t be reduced in the same sense which the understanding of technology and engineering can be. Because we live in an open system which is constantly adjusting and readjusting to fit the current environmentally pressures it is extremely difficult for a mechanistic reduced technology to do the same. With that said I do believe there is a place for technology in our society, but extreme caution must be held at a great priority and a more holistic, all-inclusive systems thinking approach would serve to our social, economically and ecological benefit.

2 thoughts on “The Consequences of Narrowly Defined Systems”

  1. That was a spot on analysis of the readings and a quality argument for humanity to reassess it’s relationship with and use of technology. It’s really difficult for us to notice the affects that our advancements in technology have made ecologically and economically because they can be slow to take affect. Humanity absolutely needs to change its mindset when it comes to technology and slow down and really contemplate the possible outcomes associated with the advancement of technology.

  2. Hi Garrett,

    I found your analysis very thorough and enjoyed how you worded it. The way you contrasted Douthwaite and Johnston with Huesmamann was fresh and interesting. I wonder what ideology people tend to side with though out the world. Your analysis of society compared to science and technology really caught my attention. I wonder if you’re right that progress is made easier because of technology? If technology wasn’t as developed as it is now, would we begin to look at the world like philosopher’s from the past? I completely agree with your last sentence! Technology is a great tool but it needs to be moderated and looked at as a tool, not a necessity…

    Have a fantastic day!

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