Technologies of humility

8 August 2016

Sheila Jasanoff’s “Technologies of Humility” are new approaches to decision-making that ‘seek to integrate the ‘can-do’ orientation of science and engineering with the ‘should-do’ questions of ethical and political analysis” (Jasanoff, 2003). In other words, technology needs to be accountable in the production and use of scientific knowledge. The whole premise is to ask the questions: what is the purpose; who will be hurt; who bene? ts; and how can we know? ” These questions are presented a counter-balance to what Jasanoff refers to as “technologies of hubris”—a command and control approach to science and technology.

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The idea behind ‘technologies of humility’ is to consider the consequences of a particular invention/technology through the review of various groups – community, professionals, etc. Oftentimes the consequences are not considered prior to the technology being put out into the community. Framing: In 1800 Thomas Jefferson wanted to develop a waterway to promote the movement of products across the country. As such, the invention of transportation was designed initially to move material and products from one point to another more efficiently and improve economies.

The elements not initially considered were the roadblocks they would encounter. The waterway that Jefferson envisioned was not quite possible due to the Rocky Mountains that divided the land and the lack of a waterway across North America. There were also elements such as the fuel needed to operate the boats, trains and cars, the maintenance required and the pollution these vehicles would ultimately cause. Vulnerability: People who live near railroads experience health issues ranging from asthma to cancers due to the pollution and toxic fumes emitted.

Not only are many people affected Technologies of Humility by the pollution produced by trains and cars, but the environment has suffered as a result. Global warming is in part due to the excessive pollutions caused by these technologies. Distribution: Better testing of pollution emissions must be done prior to releasing these transportation avenues into the communities. What can be done to reduce the emissions that are causing environmental issues and healthy problems for the community residents? Finding other ways to power cars and trains is imperative.

The implementation of hybrid and electric vehicles is without a doubt a good start but needs to be expanded upon. Learning: The lessons learned have been those that have affected the health and safety of the community and the impact to the environment. The Clean Air Act is a good way to help prevent future damage to the residents and environment but I’m not sure it goes far enough just yet. The government is fully aware of the damages these inventions have caused – the issue is what all can be done to minimize further damage and reduce or repair the damage already caused.

Conclusion: The initial problem that transportation was meant to address was getting people and product from one place to another in a timely, more efficient manner. The problem was addressed correctly but the long-term health and environmental effects of transportation were not considered and as a result, many people have gotten sick and the environment has suffered. Further research and improvements to transportation options is essential to protect the people and to prevent and/or minimize future damage to the environment.

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