Technology and Society

To know what you know, and what you do not know — this is knowledge. — Confucius

The
accomplishments of the 20th century are revolutionising science and
technology in the 21st. The rate and pace of technological advancements
is following an exponential growth; the convergence of
multiple-disciplines will lead to a significant impact on society. As
the global economy continues to be driven by the new technological
advancements, the stakeholders, policy and decision-makers of the
future need to be educated about the social implication of technology
at the local and global level so that they can guide society to the
appropriate uses of technology, alert society to technological
failures, and provide a vision to society in helping to solve societal
problems in a wise and humane manner.

Technology and Society: Issues for the 21st century and beyond presents
an array of readings that provide historical perspectives and introduce
readers to new and emerging technologies and discuss their social
implications. The text offers multifaceted perspectives and viewpoints
to promote inquiry and includes such topics as history of technology,
ethics and technology, energy, ecology, population, war and technology,
health and technology, as well as technology of the future. The text
also promotes active learning by using innovative learning tools and
strategies such as flowcharts, web-based exercises, case studies and
scenarios. Each section of the book is supported by a variety of
features intended to supplement and compliment learning, critical
analysis and social awareness.

Part one, ‘The History of Technology’, presents a diverse collection of
views covering technological history, anthropology and the ethical
development of technology. The diversity presented within this chapter
encourages reader to try to clarify and sort out the many ways in which
technology can be used and integrated into society. The section begins
with a brief introduction, followed by an extensive timeline
highlighting technology from its most primitive form to the most
sophisticated.

The second part, ‘Ethics and Technology’, introduces ethics and its
position within technological development. It confronts the need for
ethical behaviour when developing, marketing and using technology. It
is easy to forget that machines, no matter how sophisticated, and no
matter how liberating in terms of the work they do for us, do not know
the difference between right and wrong. Paul Alcorn discusses the
relationship between ethics and technology. He defines technology,
explains the evolution of technology and then explains the ethical
choices correlated to technological development.

Kohlberg’s model of cognitive moral development is explained and
correlated to ethical decision making. Trevino’s interactionist model
explains the process of ethical decision making based on individual
perception and situational variables.

Part three investigates the impact of technology on energy development
and conservation. The chapters in this section provide a survey of
renewable and non-renewable energy technologies and discuss the issues
and challenges of economic growth within the domains of sustainable
environment. The first chapter ‘Fossil Fuel Fundamentals’ provides a
global perspective of fossil fuel resources and explores the issues of
energy production and consumption, America’s dependence on fossil fuel,
and the advantages and disadvantages of fossil fuels. The second
chapter ‘Energy for a New Century’ presents a perspective on the new
energy strategies for the 21st century. The third chapter ‘Immortal
Waste’ provides an introduction to the problem of nuclear waste. The
fourth chapter ‘Oil and Blood: The way to take over the world’ presents
a historical perspective for the invasion of Iraq. The fifth chapter
‘Fuel Cell Technology and hydrogen Economy’ presents a review of fuel
cell technology. The sixth chapter ‘The Hydrogen Experiment’ discusses
Iceland’s migration towards a hydrogen society. Case Study 1
‘Chernobyl’ discusses the reasons that led to the nuclear accident at
Chernobyl. And Case Study 2 ‘Tasman Spirit Oil Spill’ discusses the
impact of oil spill on the ecology of beaches in Karachi.

Part four, ‘Ecology’, provides an overview with three key points: (1)
by defining ecology as the examination and effect of the mutual
relationship between organisms and the environment, (2) by giving a
brief historical US view regarding the environmental movement beginning
from Earth Day 1970 and (3) by outlining world ecological issues
according to risk. High risk finds include habitat destruction, global
warming, ozone layer depletion, species extinction and biological
diversity. Medium risk issues include herbicides and pesticides,
surface water pollution, and airborne toxic substances. Lower risk
ecological issues are oil spills, radioactive materials, and ground
water pollution. A narrative summary of the high risk issues of habitat
destruction, species extinction, global warming and ozone layer along
with an economic view of ecology conclude the introduction.
 


It is easy to forget that machines, no matter how
sophisticated, and no matter how liberating in terms of the work they
do for us, do not know the difference between right and wrong.

 


Part five, ‘Population’, gives the readers a sense of population
history, population escalation numbers and population theories so that
the reader begins to have a sense of the numbers and meaning of the
exponential growth patterns that we are now experiencing. The
introduction also gives internet addresses for the current second by
second population clock and projection numbers so that students can
witness, in real time, the second by second changing population
patterns and apply theories and patterns from these actual numbers.

Part six, ‘War and Technology’, looks at the way technology is used in
war, the institutions which provide military technologies, and the
people who use them. War has been a way to settle disputes for
centuries. But with each passing year the wars seemed to last longer
and cost more, almost to the point that the winner could hardly be
distinguished from the loser. Technology has been seen by some as the
way to end war; not just by agreeing that unleashing weapons of mass
destruction would be wrong, but by using technology to ensure that once
a war is started, it will end, and end quickly. Some nations see
nothing improper in spending billions of dollars to perfect weapons
systems and enriching corporate venders and deferring needed public
projects in the process in order to develop a weapons system which will
give them the edge.

Part seven, ‘Health and Technology’, encourages readers to analyse how
daily living decisions can have negative effects on their health. For
example, antibiotics may lack effectiveness because of the emergence of
bacteria that is resistant to them. The buildings that people work and
live in can cause serious illness due to the mold, monoxides,
pesticides, ozone and radon contained in them. What about the food that
is digested, does it really make individuals healthy and strong? Maybe
it depends on how the food was manufactured. Are the foods that are
eaten grown naturally or genetically? This part evaluates genetically
modified foods and debates their safety. Should human clones exist?
Both sides of this controversial issue are discussed in detail. Another
controversial issue discussed is political and global responses to HIV
and Aids.

Part eight, ‘Technology and the Third World’, presents an overview of
the state and impact of technology in the developing world. ‘One
Planet: Many Worlds’ provides a historical perspective on the developed
and the developing countries, and the status of technology in the third
world. ‘Income Gap Widens’ explores the economic disparity between the
first and the third world. ‘China’s challenge to the United States and
to the Earth’ compares China with United States in terms of population,
oil consumption and carbon emissions, and examines the environmental
cost of China’s economic growth. ‘N30 WTO Showdown’ discusses the
implications of globalisation. ‘Pakistan: Karachi’s Informal Recycling
Network’ provides an account of the efficient use of recycling in a
developing country. ‘Sri Lanka: Technology and Agriculture, Tractor
versus Buffalo’ examines the impact of replacing traditional animal
power by modern tractors on the ecology and the environment of Sri
Lanka. ‘Appropriate Technologies’ explores various technologies that
could be used by the third world countries for developing the requisite
infrastructures for promoting economic growth. ‘Harnessing the Wind’
discusses the use of wind power for satisfying the growing demand for
power in Indonesia, Mexico, India and China.

Part
nine, ‘Technology and the Future’, begins by crossing over the bridge
into the 21st century and envisioning a preferred future. Specific case
studies examine new technological applications that will affect the
medical, military, and ecological aspects of our lives. The readings
also focus on predictions of future developments. This part also
explores specific technologies in information technology and medicine
as well as the military and concludes by examining the progress of
global future world development efforts and re-examining population
growth estimates. These issues and their analysis relate to such
technological issues of the future such as microprocessor
miniaturisation, optical networks, gene alteration, nanotechnology, and
artificial intelligence, along with pressing ethical and social issues
of the 21st century.

One of the unique features of the book is the incorporation of
flowcharts as logical, interactive maps that emphasise the problems,
possible solutions and points of direction and significance of the
chapters and case studies. Each chapter contains numerous data tables,
statistics, list of websites, and images to supplement and enhance the
content of the chapter material. The book concludes with commentaries
from authors, describing their own views on how to interpret steps into
the future. The book is a must read for technical and non-technical
seekers of knowledge.

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