#46A: A technological fix refers to solving a problem by
using technology. By
technology we mean what humans do
to gain control over nature & their environment, and the special
know-ledge, tools, means
employed by people to provide goods & services for human sustenance
and comfort (Figure #46a). Early
technological advances involved using tools to make other tools. Making tools (such as levers) allowed humans to work more
efficiently, and use sources of energy besides the mechanical energy
human muscles supply. We
note humans harnessing 1) chemical energy stored in wood with control of
fire (~one million years ago), 2)
electromagnetic energy (electricity, ~150 years ago), and 3) nuclear
energy. This last milestone
was reached in 1942
with the first manmade, control-led nuclear chain reaction. Three years
later the explosive release of such energy helped end World War II—an
event some label the darkest moment in the history of technology.
Recent chapters in that history have involved critics—
beginning with Luddites: the
"machine smashers" of the 19th century revolt against inhumane
working conditions in factories. Modern
critics associate technology's dark side
with its inappropriate use and argue it's a mistake to look solely for
technological fixes to problems having both technological and human
societal dimensions. Some
prefer finding attitudinal fixes (see theme #47A); others link certain
technologies to environmental problems and look to appropriate
technology for solutions. Many
anti-technologists fear modern technology (particularly genetic
engineering) gives human beings power to "play God."
Technologists see technologies as tools neither good or bad, and
argue it's what people do with them that can be questioned.
Over the last century technology has greatly extended average
human life spans, made life easier and spared people lots of drudgery.
More recently, computer technology has made a vast amount of
knowledge readily available to everyone, greatly aided learning and
understanding. This is
making the world a better place, they contend.
the seriousness of the global warming problem, rather than promote
lifestyle changes, some technologists prefer carbon mitigation
strategies (Figure #40a), others opt for geo-engineering (Figure #25a)
is rooted in aggression, notably territorial aggression.
The first wars were tribal turf battles fought with sticks and
to E. O. Wilson, "War can be defined as the violent rupture of the
intricate and powerful fabric of territorial taboos observed by social
groups. The force behind
most warlike policies is ethnocentrism, the irrationally exaggerated
allegiance of individuals to their kin and fellow tribesmen."
Around 1,000 years ago people began developing gun powder
(concentrated chemical energy) based military technology.
The next millennium saw nations increasingly using military
science to more effectively wage war.
With World War II raging, in his classic
A Study of War, Quincy Wright wrote
wrote "From a technological point of view war
is a violent encounter of powers...Each belligerent power is conceived
as a military hierarchy, the units of which are the individual soldiers
and workers, who through discipline, respond automatically to the word
of command ...Each power thus resembles a single great machine."
Whereas the first wars involved hand to hand combat, warfare has
evolved with technology and killing has steadily gotten less personal.
But it can still involve face to face contact with the enemy: see
If World War III is ever fought, it could involve a few hands
pushing buttons and initiating the delivery of nuclear weapons by
missiles that travel thousands of miles before striking tar-gets.
This would immediately kill hundreds of millions, and ultimately
billions of people. Is
there a technological fix to prevent that from happening? "Yes!" say proponents of the U.S. nuclear missile
defense program (known as "Star Wars" technology).
"No!" say opponents. "Hitting missiles traveling
thousands of mi/hr with other missiles is too daunting a task, and the
required hardware too expensive!"
They prefer finding attitudinal fixes and preventing such
missiles from being launched in the first place.
If they are launched on a massive scale, many scientists believe,
environmental effects of nuclear war would be such that the next war—if
any humans are around to fight it—will again be fought with sticks and
Note: Some military leaders do not fully buy into this
world-view theme, notably those who prefer diplomacy to war!
#46a: Technology: Inputs,
Figure #46b: Six Articles from the United States Army Code of Conduct
back to worldview theme(s) #46