Democracy and Technology (The Conduct of Science Series)

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9780898628616: Democracy and Technology (The Conduct of Science Series)
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This eye-opening book describes how modern technologies--such as computers, automobiles, machine tools, hybrid crops, nuclear reactors, and others--contribute to vexing social problems ranging from the continued subordination of women and workers to widespread political disengagement. Engineers, manufacturers, and policy makers rarely take these consequences into account. Contending that reinvigorated democratic politics can and should supersede conventional economic reasoning as a basis for decisions about technology, Richard Sclove clearly outlines how the general public can become actively involved in all phases of technology decision making, from assessment and policy making to research and development.

Winner-- American Political Science Association's Don K. Price Award

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Review:

The profound effects of technology on society occur mostly without our say-so, much less our blessing. People tend to take the changes technology brings about for granted; we are seldom, if ever, given a say choosing the technologies that become part of our everyday lives. Arguing that it need not be so, Sclove makes a case for cultivating "strong democracy," giving communities a say in choosing which technologies they will live with. This involves making people aware of the unintended consequences that accompany technology designed for a specific narrow purpose. One of his models is the Amish community, which holds town meetings to discuss the effect of introducing any innovation. Is the bringing of indoor plumbing to every home in a village universally desirable if it may atomize a thriving community? Should we allow loud car alarms to keep our cars safe? Why is that such decisions tend to be made ad hoc by individuals instead of by the community? Sclove's idealistic program is provocative.

About the Author:

Richard E. Sclove is Executive Director of The Loka Institute in Amherst, MA, and the founder of FASTnet (the Federation of Activists on Science & Technology Network). A recipient of a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, he is also a research fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.

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9780898628609: Democracy and Technology

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