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Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE

Issue 1 • Date Spring 1994

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Displaying Results 1 - 5 of 5
  • Controlling technology

    Page(s): 2 - 3
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    The notion of controlling technology would have evoked different responses in different eras of the past. As the nineteenth century came and went, scientific discovery and technological invention and innovation were viewed as self-determined processes with their own dynamic that would inevitably lead to improvements in human life. Under such thinking, the idea of externally controlling technology would have been an alien concept. The claim that the control of technology can be accomplished through the mechanism of the market fails to be verified empirically in case after case. I can see only two explanations why such a claim might still be maintained by some: a) the claim is based on ideology, as an article of unquestioning faith; or b) those who make and promote this claim have a vested interest in maintaining things as they are. In view of the overwhelming damage to human life, would a term like genocide be too harsh to describe the continuing reliance on the market to control technology? One approach for controlling technology has not gotten the attention it deserves. Very often, those who are most intimately acquainted with the properties of technological devices and systems, and their potential effects, are the engineers who design and build them. Mechanisms are needed in the education of engineers as professionals to "vaccinate" them with the ideal of service, and to protect them from reprisal when they act to control technology in the service of the public.<> View full abstract»

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  • Ethical risk assessment: valuing public perceptions

    Page(s): 4 - 10
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    Engineers are confronted with an array of moral issues and dilemmas as the complexity modern technology results in equally complex efforts to assess the accompanying environmental and safety risks. The author examines the connections between engineering ethics, risk communication, and the engineering culture. First moral issues in risk assessment are reviewed and the ethical responsibilities of engineers with respect to risk assessment and risk communication are discussed. The conventional model of risk communication, which holds that only experts possess relevant risk information, is then critiqued, and the findings of social scientists and humanists with respect to the dual importance of expert and public risk information are reviewed. Following a discussion of the prevailing engineering culture, particularly as it relates to the problems involved in risk communication, some suggestions are made for transforming the engineering culture in a manner conducive to more meaningful discussion of risk.<> View full abstract»

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  • Eliminating barriers to the telecommunications revolution

    Page(s): 11 - 16
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    The author asks the question: why have convergence and telecommunications not "taken off" as some of us had anticipated? The reason is that three inhibitors block the arrival of the age of convergence and one of these is the lingering presence of a web of cross subsidy that fosters economic and emotional barriers to marketplace entrants with new technologies. The author discusses various questions concerning this cross subsidy: what is the approximate size of the residual cross subsidy that still flows from other services to local residential service? How might this cross subsidy affect the dynamics of technological evolution? What, if anything, might stemming the flow of the most egregious elements of the cross subsidy imply?.<> View full abstract»

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  • Distribution costs of global climate change

    Page(s): 17 - 24
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    The problem of global climate change links the issues of energy utilization, economic development, environmental degradation, and equity on a planetary scale. Questions concerning the scale and timing of the impact of continuously increasing emissions of greenhouse gases remain. A set of approaches has emerged which claim to objectively demonstrate that nothing or very little should be done to address this problem. These approaches rely on standard economic theory and analytical methods to reach their conclusion that significant worldwide action is unnecessary. In the authors' view, however, these approaches contain biases which place an exceptionally high value on maintaining the status quo of global patterns of resource consumption and distribution of wealth. When utilized to analyze various policy options, this bias results in a determination that equity considerations are too costly and may impede technological and economic progress. As an alternative, the authors propose an approach based on a principle of equity in atmospheric resource utilization.<> View full abstract»

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  • Human-centered manufacturing for the developing world

    Page(s): 25 - 32
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    One of the most important issues in designing human-centered systems must be to understand the driving force/spl minus/the human components. The point is simple: when developing the solution to any engineering problem, the designer must understand the capacities, the inherent nature and all the operational characteristics of the component parts available for constructing the final system. Designers now must understand the inherent nature of the people who will be part of the final systems. Of importance too is the very evident fact that each person is an individual and each national grouping has its own distinctive characteristics. Thus, human-centered manufacturing systems will need to be customized to meet local conditions. The starting point is to understand why people work. Only by appreciating this can designers begin to integrate people effectively into systems. Getting any developing country back into manufacturing requires the recognition that any production facility must be optimized to produce products which compete on a global scale, and must be designed to take into consideration all local factors. In searching for the appropriate mix of humans and machines, the local situation is critical, and so is the need to understand, and subsequently to use in the design of manufacturing systems, the cultural aspects of the humans who will be involved.<> View full abstract»

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IEEE Technology and Society Magazine covers the impact of technology (as embodied by the fields of interest in IEEE) on society

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Editor-in-Chief
Katina Michael
School of Information Systems and Technology
University of Wollongong