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A Policy-Sensitive Model of Technology Assessment

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2 Author(s)

The various approaches to technology assessment can be broadly subsumed under two alternative paradigms. These two paradigms¿labeled as paradigm A and B¿are contrasted. The epistemological differences between the two paradigms and their implications for the actual conduct of technology assessment are briefly discussed. Paradigm A is driven by the question "how can society be organized to take full advantage of technology and to mitigate its adverse impacts?" Paradigm B, on the contrary, concerns itself with the question¿"what does it mean to choose and deploy a certain technology?" The fundamental difference between the two questions leads to divergent conceptions of technology, society, and public choice. The major effort is to fully articulate paradigm B in terms of a policy¿oriented model of technology assessment. This is done, first, by reexamining the broader relationships between technology assessment, social change, and public policymaking. It is argued that the assessment of technologies entails sociopolitical choices since the two are reciprocally linked. Later, the linkage between technical¿analytic and policy¿analytic components of technology assessment are discussed. The discussion provides the theoretical foundation for the proposed model. The major ingredients of the proposed model include: alternative scenarios, explanatory frameworks of the major affected parties, an impact¿assessment space, and a sociopolitical choice space. The domain for impact assessment is selected on the basis of the alternative value assumptions in the scenarios and the dominant perceptions in the explanatory frameworks of the affected parties.

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Systems, Man and Cybernetics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:9 ,  Issue: 9 )