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SOCA02H3 (398)
Mc Kinon (57)


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Mc Kinon

Technology and the Global Environment TECHNOLOGY: SAVIOUR OR FRANKENSTEIN? - On August 6, 1945, the United States Air Force dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The bomb killed about 200 000 Japanese, almost all of them civilians. - We may call the period before Hiroshima the era of naive optimism. During that time, technology could do no wrong, or so it seemed to nearly all observers. - Technology was widely defined as the application of scientific principles to the improvement of human life - the worlds first nuclear bomb exploded at the Alamagordo Bombing Range in New Mexico. - The bomb was the child of J. Robert Oppenheimer - Having witnessed the destructive power he helped unleash, he wanted the United States to set an example to the only other nuclear power at the time, the Soviet Union. He wanted both countries to halt thermo- nuclear research and refuse to develop the hydrogen bomb. But the governments of the United States and the Soviet Union had other plans. - The term normal accident recognizes that the very complexity of modern technologies ensures they will inevitably fail, though in unpredictable ways - You experience normal accidents when your home computer crashes or hangs. - German sociologist Ulrich Beck also coined a term that stuck when he said we live in a risk society. A risk society is a society in which technology distributes danger among all categories of the population. - in a risk society, danger does not result from technological accidents alone. In addition, increased risk is due to mounting environmental threats. Environmental threats are more widespread, chronic, and ambiguous than technological accidents. - Neil Postman (1992) refers to the United States as a technopoly. He argues that the United States is the first country in which technology has taken control of culture. Technology, he says, compels people to try to solve all problems using technical rather than moral criteria, although technology is often the source of the problems - latest concern of technological skeptics is biotechnology Technology and People Make History - Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev was the first social scientist to notice that technologies are invented in clusters - Kondratiev subscribed to a form of technological determinism, the belief that technology is the major force shaping human society and history - James Watt invented the steam engine in Britain in 1766 - Gottlieb Daimler invented the internal combustion engine in Germany in 1883 - John Atanasoff was among the first people to invent the computer in 1939 at Iowa State College - if we probe a little deeper into the development of any of the technologies mentioned above, we notice a pattern: They did not become engines of economic growth until social conditions allowed them to do so. - technology and society influence each other. Scientific discoveries, once adopted on a wide scale, often transform societies. But scientific discoveries are turned into useful technologies only when social need demands it. How High Tech Became Big Tech
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