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Is the effort of engineers to advance technology for social benefit worthwhile? One widely accepted definition of social benefit, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, includes several rights that depend to a greater or lesser extent on technology. On the face of it this validates the effort of engineers. Yet prominent economist Friedrich Hayek queried the very concept of social benefit. This gap between the engineering and economic perspectives is not widely recognized. While initially neutral on the purpose of economic activity, economist Michael Porter has taken a position supporting social benefit.
Date of Publication: Summer 2012