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Lecture Two: Introduction (Con't)

5 Pages

Natural Science
Course Code
NATS 1775
Vera Pavri

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Lecture Two: Introductory Lecture Cont September 15, 2011 Technology as Applied Science This theory claims that science and technology are interrelated, and that basic scientific research can find new technologies. This theory can be applied to the modern world, however it cannot be applied to most of history. This was because technology and science were believed to be completely different fields. In the past history of technology was usually subsumed under histories of science or economics. Technology as “applied science” refers to idea that technology is driven by scientific discoveries While this might be true to some extent in the modern era, prior to the 20th century science and technology done by different sets of people with different norms and values within their established communities Scientists and people practicing the technical arts were working in completely different domains, and they did not collaborate in their ideas until the 20th century. Examples Industrial Revolution – inventions such as textile machines, steam engines, railways had little scientific knowledge behind them Today, the debate still continues as to whether modern technology heavily relies on scientific knowledge Project Hindsight – 1960’s – Department of Defense – looked at development of military defense system Researchers found 0.3% events relied on scientific; 90% had technical origin; 8% applied science Project Traces – National Science Foundation – contraceptives, electron microscope, VCR’s all rooted in basic scientific research Necessity is the Mother of Invention/The Necessity Argument/The Economic Needs Theory According to this theory, a technology is created by someone in order to fulfill a need that exists in society. Economic approach to technological development whereby technologies are created according to the particular needs or wants of society; “necessity is the mother of invention” Sometimes, technologies are created out of need, but in the majority of instances, this is not true Assumption is that technological development follows a fixed one-way path and can be explained by referring to economic laws, etc... While this may be true for a certain category of invention, the major criticism of this idea is the assumption that the inventors of a technology actually know what their technology will be used for Problems with this Argument In most of history, technologies have not really been created for necessity. Many have been created out of hate, love, boredom or sometimes completely by accident. The Time-Lag Argument - this theory doesn't apply because there are some technologies that were created long before society had found a use or need for the technology. Therefore there was no need for that technology when it was created. eExample: windmills introduced into England around 1185 but spread only in 13th century after landowners thought they could be profitable venture We are making a huge assumption with this theory. We are assuming that inventors know how their technology will be used. We don't actually know ultimately how the technology will be used. As we will see time and time again in this class, inventors of a technology may not actually know how users will respond to their technology; in many instances comparisons will often be made to older technologies This often leads to idea of UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES related to technological development. More Likely Approach on This Instead of necessity as mother of invention, might be more prudent to argue that new inventions often create needs that must then be satisfied by new technologies. This means that technologies are created which in turn create needs for the technologies that are available. THEMES OF THE COURSE How Users Shape new Technologies If inventors don't know how their technology is going to be used, we have to see how people use the technology to determine whether or not it is successful, and in what shape it will take in society. This is the direct counter to the Necessity argument. In some cases, “users” can refer to society in general or a smaller subgroup within society. There are al
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