Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences

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9780679425632: Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences

In this fascinating book, historian of science Edward Tenner takes a fine-toothed comb to several realms of technological intervention and discovers a resolute pattern of "revenge effects, "paradoxical, ironic consequences of the step s we take supposedly to improve our lives. Whether proliferating technology is fated to lead us to utopia, we can be certain that it has plenty of tricks up its sleeve.

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Review:

To the Hopi Indians in America's Southwest, our existence will soon become koyaanissqatsi or "a world out of balance." Some doomsday theorists, like historian Edward Tenner, argue we are already there. But unlike many of his colleagues, Tenner doesn't believe technology is causing the world's demise--rather, it is carrying us, as individuals, to our own koyaanissqatsi more quickly. Technological "breakthroughs" such as X-rays and computers have their immediate benefits, but their long-term consequences in terms of health and environmental risks, lost time, and disintegration of traditions set us back further than where we started in the first place. While Tenner doesn't damn technology, he cautions for modest and skeptical acceptance of it.

About the Author:

Edward Tenner, former executive editor for physical science and history at Princeton University Press, holds a visiting research appointment in the Department of Geological and Geophysical Sciences at Princeton University. He received the A.B. from Princeton and the Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago and has held visiting research positions at Rutgers University and the Institute for Advanced Study. In 1991-92 he was a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow and in 1995-96 is a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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