Technological innovation and economic transformation: A method for contextual analysis

The underlying theme of our project is that society in its quest for order in an inherently chaotic natural setting tends to think about technological innovation much too narrowly, and this causes at least two kinds of problems. The first is the narrow attitude of the naysayer—one who too quickly asserts that, whatever it is, it cannot be done. Any aspiring innovator can recount the times that an idea has run headlong into a listing of reasons why it would not work. The second problem is the dual of the first. It is the narrow attitude of the visionary, who would be fixated only on achieving the aim of a single idea without acknowledging its connections to other facets of life in the context of the moment. In this project, we seek to strike a balance between retrospective and contemporary critique to encourage careful consideration of the specific benefits to society any given technology has the potential to deliver. We would argue that in almost every case, a technology whose sponsors have succeeded in building the case for its societal benefit must also be evaluated critically in terms of the associated adjustments that certain groups would be impelled to make.

New York, NY, Palgrave Macmillan

 Record created 2016-03-07, last modified 2018-03-17

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