To Scientific American, Re: Technological Fixes

On the whole, your balanced view of technology (SA Perspectives “Get Real,” 4/03) seems appropriate. However, when you suggest that to stop research is to give up trying to make the world a better place, you tend toward your own dangerous extreme. Far more often than not in our global culture, technology is used to “fix” a problem that is really just a symptom of a more fundamental systemic dysfunction. The very prevalance of technology tends to keep us in that pound-of-cure mindset without realizing it. Worse, due to the complexities of human and ecological systems, the fixes often have unintended negative consequences. Unfortunately, those consequences are usually met by the prevalent mindset with merely another technofix. Technology may provide useful tools, but it is simply not the ultimate answer to making the world a better place. For that, we require a paradigm shift into a systems- and complexity-science-based way of thinking.

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