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Chapter 3: THE NATURE OF TECHNOLOGY

TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE

DESIGN AND SYSTEMS

ISSUES IN TECHNOLOGY

Chapter 3: THE NATURE OF TECHNOLOGY

As lengthy as tright here have been human being, tright here has been innovation. Certainly, the techniques of shaping devices are taken as the chief proof of the beginning of human culture. On the entirety, technology has actually been a powerful pressure in the breakthrough of civilization, all the more so as its link via scientific research has been forged. Technology—prefer language, routine, worths, business, and also the arts—is an intrinsic part of a cultural mechanism and it both forms and reflects the system"s values. In today"s people, modern technology is a complex social enterprise that has not just research, design, and also crafts however likewise finance, production, management, labor, marketing, and also maintenance.

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In the broadest feeling, innovation exhas a tendency our abilities to adjust the world: to reduced, form, or put together materials; to relocate points from one area to another; to reach farther through our hands, voices, and also senses. We use technology to attempt to adjust the people to suit us much better. The alters may relate to survival needs such as food, sanctuary, or defense, or they might relate to humale aspirations such as knowledge, art, or regulate. But the outcomes of changing the human being are regularly complex and also unpredictable. They deserve to include unexpected benefits, unexpected costs, and also unsupposed risks—any of which may loss on different social teams at different times. Anticipating the effects of technology is therefore as necessary as progressing its capabilities.

This chapter presents recommendations on what understanding about the nature of modern technology is required for scientific proficiency and emphasizes ways of reasoning around technology that have the right to contribute to utilizing it wisely. The principles are sorted right into three sections: the link of scientific research and also modern technology, the values of innovation itself, and the link of technology and society. Chapter 8, The Designed World, presents values appropriate to some of the vital technologies of today"s civilization. Chapter 10, Historical Perspectives, has a conversation of the Industrial Revolution. Chapter 12, Habits of Mind, consists of some skills pertinent to participating in a technological civilization.

TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE

Technology Draws on Science and also Contributes to It

In previously times, technology grew out of personal experience through the properties of things and through the techniques for manipulating them, out of know-how handed dvery own from professionals to apprentices over many kind of generations. The know-exactly how handed down today is not just the craft of single practitioners however likewise a substantial literary works of words, numbers, and also images that define and provide directions. But just as necessary as collected handy expertise is the contribution to innovation that comes from expertise the ethics that underlie just how points behave—that is, from scientific knowledge.

Engineering, the organized application of clinical expertise in arising and also applying modern technology, has grvery own from a craft to come to be a science in itself. Scientific expertise offers a means of estimating what the behavior of things will certainly be even prior to we make them or observe them. Moreover, scientific research often argues new kinds of actions that had not even been imagined before, and also so leads to brand-new modern technologies. Engineers usage expertise of scientific research and also technology, along with methods of style, to settle useful problems.

In rerevolve, technology offers the eyes and also ears of science—and some of the muscle, as well. The electronic computer system, for instance, has resulted in considerable development in the study of weather devices, demographic patterns, gene framework, and also other complicated systems that would not have been possible otherwise. Technology is important to science for objectives of measurement, information arsenal, therapy of samples, computation, transportation to research sites (such as Antarctica, the moon, and the sea floor), sample arsenal, defense from hazardous materials, and communication. More and also even more, brand-new tools and methods are being arisen through technology that make it possible to advancement miscellaneous lines of scientific research.

Technology does not simply carry out devices for scientific research, however; it likewise might administer incentive and also direction for theory and also research study. The theory of the conservation of energy, for instance, was arisen in large component because of the technical trouble of boosting the effectiveness of commercial vapor engines. The mapping of the locations of the whole set of genes in human DNA has actually been encouraged by the technology of hereditary design, which both provides such mapping feasible and gives a factor for doing so.

As innovations end up being even more sophisticated, their links to science become more powerful. In some fields, such as solid-state physics (which involves transistors and also superconductors), the capacity to make something and also the ability to examine it are so interdependent that scientific research and also engineering deserve to scarcely be separated. New innovation often calls for new understanding; new investigations often need brand-new innovation.

Engineering Combines Scientific Inquiry and also Practical Values

The component of innovation a lot of carefully allied to clinical inquiry and also to mathematical modeling is design. In its broadest sense, design is composed of construing a trouble and also creating a solution for it. The basic technique is to initially devise a basic strategy and then work-related out the technical details of the construction of requiwebsite objects (such as an automobile engine, a computer chip, or a mechanical toy) or processes (such as irrigation, opinion polling, or product testing).

Much of what has actually been shelp around the nature of scientific research applies to design as well, especially the usage of math, the interplay of creativity and logic, the eagerness to be original, the range of human being involved, the skilled specialties, public duty, and so on. Without a doubt, tright here are more world called engineers than human being called scientists, and also many type of scientists are doing work-related that could be defined as design as well as scientific research. Similarly, many engineers are involved in scientific research.

Scientists check out trends in sensations as making the human being understandable; engineers also watch them as making the people manipulable. Scientists seek to display that theories fit the data; mathematicians look for to show logical proof of abstract connections; engineers look for to demonstrate that deindicators job-related. Scientists cannot administer answers to all questions; mathematicians cannot prove all feasible connections; designers cannot design options for all problems.

But design affects the social device and also culture more directly than clinical study, with instant implications for the success or faientice of huguy enterprises and also for personal benefit and harm. Engineering decisions, whether in creating an aircraft bolt or an watering system, inevitably involve social and also personal values and also scientific judgments.

DESIGN AND SYSTEMS

The Essence of Engineering Is Design Under Constraint

Eincredibly engineering design operates within constraints that need to be figured out and also taken right into account. One form of constraint is absolute—for instance, physical legislations such as the conservation of energy or physical properties such as boundaries of adaptability, electrical conductivity, and also friction. Other forms have some flexibility: economic (only so a lot money is easily accessible for this purpose), political (neighborhood, state, and nationwide regulations), social (public opposition), eco-friendly (most likely disruption of the organic environment), and honest (disadvantages to some human being, danger to subsequent generations). An optimum style takes into account all the constraints and strikes some reasonable damage among them. Reaching such design compromises—consisting of, periodically, the decision not to build a specific technology further—calls for taking individual and social worths right into account. Although design may periodically require just regime decisions about the combining of acquainted components, regularly it involves great imagination in inventing brand-new philosophies to troubles, brand-new components, and new combinations—and also excellent innovation in seeing new problems or new possibilities.

But tright here is no perfect design. Accommodating one constraint well deserve to often result in problem with others. For example, the lightest product might not be the strongest, or the the majority of reliable form might not be the safest or the most aesthetically pleasing. As such eextremely style difficulty lends itself to many type of alternative options, relying on what values people location on the assorted constraints. For example, is stamina more preferable than lightness, and is appearance even more essential than safety? The task is to arrive at a design that fairly balances the many type of trade-offs, via the knowledge that no single style is ever before all at once the safest, the many reliable, the a lot of efficient, the many inexpensive, and also so on.

It is rarely handy to architecture an isolated object or procedure without considering the wide conmessage in which it will be used. Many products of innovation have to be operated, kept, sometimes repaired, and also ultimately reput. Since all these associated activities bear prices, they too need to be taken into consideration. A comparable issue that is coming to be significantly necessary through more facility technologies is the need to train personnel to market, run, maintain, and repair them. Particularly once technology changes conveniently, training can be a major cost. Thus, maintaining dvery own requirements on personnel might be an additional style constraint.

Deindications virtually always call for trial and error, especially when the design is unusual or complicated, as soon as the last product or process is most likely to be expensive or dangerous, or as soon as faitempt has actually a really high expense. Performance tests of a style might be performed by using finish products, but doing so may be prohibitively tough or expensive. So testing is often done by utilizing small-scale physical models, computer system simulations, evaluation of analogous systems (for example, laboratory animals standing in for humans, earthquake tragedies for nuclear disasters), or trial and error of sepaprice components only.

All Technologies Involve Control

All systems, from the simplest to the most complex, need control to store them operating effectively. The significance of regulate is comparing indevelopment about what is happening through what we want to take place and then making appropriate adjustments. Control commonly calls for feedearlier (from sensors or various other sources of information) and logical comparisons of that information to instructions (and also maybe to various other information input)—and a means for activating changes. For instance, a baking cooktop is a fairly straightforward mechanism that compares the indevelopment from a temperature sensor to a control setting and also transforms the heating aspect up or dvery own to save the temperature within a little selection. An car is a much more facility device, comprised of subsystems for controlling engine temperature, combustion rate, direction, rate, and also so forth, and for transforming them as soon as the immediate scenarios or instructions readjust. Miniaturized electronic devices provides feasible logical regulate in a great selection of technical units. Almany all however the simplest family appliances supplied today include microprocessors to control their performance.

As controls rise in complexity, they too need coordination, which indicates extra layers of manage. Improvement in fast interaction and fast processing of indevelopment makes feasible extremely intricate devices of control. Yet all technological units encompass humale as well as mechanical or digital components. Even the a lot of automatic system requires humale regulate at some point—to program the integrated manage aspects, monitor them, take over from them when they malfeature, and also adjust them when the functions of the system change. The ultimate manage lies via civilization that understand also in some depth what the purpose and also nature of the regulate procedure are and also the conmessage within which the procedure opeprices.

Technologies Almeans Have Side Effects

In enhancement to its intended benefits, eextremely architecture is likely to have unintended side effects in its manufacturing and application. On the one hand also, tbelow might be unmeant benefits. For instance, functioning conditions may come to be safer when materials are molded rather than stamped, and also products designed for area satellites might prove valuable in consumer assets. On the various other hand, substances or processes connected in production may injury production workers or the public in general; for example, sitting in front of a computer might strain the user"s eyes and cause isolation from other employees. And tasks might be affected—by boosting employment for world involved in the brand-new innovation, decreasing employment for others connected in the old modern technology, and also changing the nature of the occupational human being need to perform in their tasks.

It is not just big technologies—nuclear reactors or agriculture—that are susceptible to side impacts, however likewise the little, day-to-day ones. The results of plain innovations may be individually little however collectively considerable. Refrigerators, for instance, have actually had a predictably favorable affect on diet and also on food circulation units. Due to the fact that there are so many kind of refrigerators, but, the tiny leakage of a gas offered in their cooling units might have comprehensive adverse effects on the earth"s environment.

Some side impacts are unmeant bereason of a absence of interemainder or resources to predict them. But many are not predictable also in principle because of the sheer complexity of technical systems and also the inventiveness of human being in finding brand-new applications. Some unintended side effects might turn out to be ethically, aesthetically, or financially unacceptable to a comprehensive fractivity of the population, leading to conflict in between teams in the community. To minimize such side effects, planners are turning to methodical risk analysis. For instance, many areas call for by law that eco-friendly impact research studies be made before they will certainly consider giving approval for the introduction of a new hospital, manufacturing facility, highway, waste-disposal mechanism, shopping mall, or various other structure.

Risk evaluation, but, deserve to be facility. Due to the fact that the hazard linked with a specific course of action have the right to never before be reduced to zero, acceptability might have to be identified by comparichild to the dangers of alternative courses of action, or to other, more familiar threats. People"s mental reactions to threat perform not necessarily complement straightforward mathematical models of benefits and costs. People tend to perceive a danger as higher if they have actually no regulate over it (smog versus smoking) or if the bad events tfinish to come in disastrous peaks (many type of deaths at when in an aircraft crash versus just a couple of at a time in automobile crashes). Personal interpretation of risks have the right to be strongly influenced by exactly how the hazard is stated—for example, comparing the probability of dying versus the probcapacity of enduring, the dreaded dangers versus the easily acceptable threats, the complete prices versus the costs per perchild per day, or the actual variety of world affected versus the proportion of affected human being.

All Technological Systems Can Fail

Many modern technical devices, from transistor radios to airliners, have been engineered and also created to be remarkably dependable. Faitempt is rare enough to be surprising. Yet the larger and even more facility a mechanism is, the more ways tright here are in which it have the right to go wrong—and the more widespcheck out the feasible effects of failure. A mechanism or gadget might fail for various reasons: because some component fails, because some part is not well matched to some other, or because the style of the mechanism is not enough for all the conditions under which it is used. One hedge versus faiattract is overdesign—that is, for instance, making something stronger or bigger than is likely to be essential. Another hedge is redundancy—that is, building in one backup system or more to take over in case the major one fails.

If faientice of a mechanism would have actually incredibly costly consequences, the mechanism may be designed so that its the majority of most likely way of failing would carry out the least injury. Instances of such "fail-safe" designs are bombs that cannot explode once the fuse malfunctions; auto windows that shatter right into blunt, linked chunks fairly than into sharp, flying fragments; and a legal device in which uncertainty leads to acquittal quite than conviction. Other means of reducing the likelihood of failure incorporate boosting the style by collecting even more data, accommodating even more variables, building more realistic working models, running computer system simulations of the architecture much longer, imposing tighter top quality manage, and also building in controls to feeling and correct problems as they develop.

All of the means of avoiding or minimizing faiattract are likely to increase cost. But no matter what precautions are taken or resources invested, danger of technological failure have the right to never before be reduced to zero. Analysis of hazard, therefore, entails estimating a probability of occurrence for eincredibly unpreferable outcome that have the right to be foreseen—and additionally estimating a measure of the harm that would certainly be done if it did happen. The intended prestige of each risk is then approximated by combining its probcapacity and also its meacertain of harm. The loved one danger of various deindications deserve to then be compared in terms of the unified probable damage resulting from each.

ISSUES IN TECHNOLOGY

The Human Presence

The earth"s population has actually currently doubled 3 times during the previous century. Even at that, the humale existence, which is noticeable almost all over on the earth, has had a better impact than sheer numbers alone would suggest. We have occurred the capacity to dominate a lot of plant and pet species—much more than any kind of other species can—and the ability to shape the future fairly than just respond to it.

Use of that capacity has actually both benefits and disbenefits. On the one hand, advances in technology have carried huge benefits to virtually all human being. Many human being this day have accessibility to products and also solutions that were once luxuries appreciated just by the wealthy—in transport, communication, nutrition, sanitation, wellness care, entertainment, and so on. On the other hand, the incredibly habits that made it possible for the huguy species to prosper so rapidly has actually put us and also the earth"s other living organisms at brand-new kinds of threat. The development of farming innovation has made possible a really large population yet has put massive strain on the soil and water units that are essential to proceed sufficient manufacturing. Our antibiotics cure bacterial infection, yet may proceed to work-related only if we invent new ones much faster than resistant bacterial strains arise.

Our accessibility to and also usage of huge stores of fossil fuels have actually made us dependent on a nonrenewable resource. In our current numbers, we will certainly not have the ability to sustain our means of living on the energy that present innovation offers, and alternate technologies might be inadequate or might existing unacceptable hazards. Our large mining and manufacturing initiatives create our products, yet they also dangerously pollute our rivers and also oceans, soil, and also atmosphere. Already, spin-offs of industrialization in the environment might be depleting the ozone layer, which displays the planet"s surconfront from harmful ultraviolet rays, and may be creating a buildup of carbon dioxide, which traps warmth and also can raise the planet"s average temperatures significantly. The eco-friendly results of a nuclear war, among its other calamities, could alter important facets of all life on earth.

From the standpoint of other species, the human presence has actually reduced the amount of the earth"s surconfront obtainable to them by clearing big areas of vegetation; has actually interfered via their food sources; has actually readjusted their habitats by altering the temperature and also chemical complace of huge components of the world environment; has destabilized their ecounits by presenting international species, deliberately or accidentally; has lessened the variety of living species; and also in some instances has actually actually altered the characteristics of particular plants and animals by selective reproduction and even more freshly by genetic engineering.

What the future holds for life on earth, barring some tremendous organic catastrophe, will be figured out mainly by the human species. The same intelligence that got us wright here we are—enhancing many aspects of human existence and also introducing brand-new dangers into the world—is additionally our primary resource for survival.

Technological and Social Solution Interact Strongly

Individual inventiveness is essential to technological development. Nonethemuch less, social and also financial forces strongly influence what technologies will certainly be undertaken, passist attention to, invested in, and also provided. Such decisions happen directly as a issue of federal government policy and instraight as a consequence of the circumstances and values of a culture at any type of certain time. In the USA, decisions about which technical options will certainly prevail are influenced by many components, such as customer acceptance, patent laws, the availcapability of danger resources, the federal budgain procedure, regional and national regulations, media attention, financial competition, tax incentives, and clinical discoveries. The balance of such incentives and also regulations normally bears differently on various technological devices, encouraging some and also discouraging others.

Technology has actually strongly affected the course of history and also the nature of human society, and it proceeds to do so. The good revolutions in agricultural technology, for example, have most likely had actually more affect on exactly how people live than political revolutions; changes in sanitation and precautionary medicine have actually added to the population explosion (and also to its control); bows and arrows, gunpowder, and also nuclear explosives have in their rotate readjusted how battle is waged; and also the microprocessor is altering exactly how human being create, compute, bank, run businesses, conduct research, and connect via one one more. Technology is largely responsible for such large alters as the enhanced urbanization of culture and also the substantially prospering economic interdependence of communities global.

Historically, some social thinkers have believed that technological readjust (such as industrialization and also mass production) reasons social change, whereas others have thought that social adjust (such as political or spiritual changes) leads to technological adjust. However, it is clear that because of the internet of connections in between technological and other social units, many influences act in both directions.

The Social System Imposes Some Restrictions on Openness in Technology

For the a lot of component, the professional worths of engineering are exceptionally equivalent to those of science, consisting of the advantages watched in the open sharing of knowledge. Due to the fact that of the financial value of technology, but, tright here are frequently constraints on the openness of science and design that are pertinent to technical invention. A huge investment of time and money and also significant commercial danger are often compelled to develop a new modern technology and also lug it to industry. That investment can well be compromised if rivals had actually accessibility to the brand-new technology without making a similar investment, and thus companies are frequently reluctant to share technical expertise. But no scientific or technical knowledge is most likely to remain key for extremely lengthy. Secrecy most regularly provides just an benefit in terms of time—a head start, not absolute control of expertise. Patent laws encourage openness by giving individuals and also carriers manage over the usage of any new innovation they develop; however, to promote technical competition, such manage is just for a minimal period of time.

Commercial benefit is not the just incentive for secrecy and control. Much technical development occurs in settings, such as government agencies, in which commercial pertains to are minimal yet nationwide security pertains to may lead to secrecy. Any innovation that has potential army applications can arguably be topic to constraints applied by the federal federal government, which might limit the sharing of engineering knowledge—or even the exportation of commodities from which engineering understanding could be inferred. Because the connections between science and also technology are so close in some areas, secrecy inevitably starts to restrict some of the complimentary circulation of indevelopment in science too. Some researchers and engineers are incredibly uncomfortable with what they perceive as a weaken of the clinical best, and also some refusage to occupational on tasks that impose secrecy. Others, but, watch the constraints as proper.

Decisions About the Use of Technology Are Complex

Many technological developments spread or disshow up on the basis of free-market forces—that is, on the basis of how human being and suppliers respond to such innovations. Occasionally, yet, the usage of some innovation becomes an problem topic to public dispute and also maybe formal regulation. One way in which technology becomes such an worry is as soon as a person, team, or service proposes to test or present a new technology—as has been the situation through contour plowing, vaccination, genetic design, and also nuclear power plants. Anvarious other means is when an innovation currently in widespreview use is referred to as right into question—as, for instance, as soon as human being are told (by individuals, establishments, or agencies) that it is essential to stop or reduce the use of a particular modern technology or technological product that has actually been found to have actually, or that may maybe have actually, adverse effects. In such instances, the proposed solution may be to ban the burial of toxic wastes in area dumps, or to prohibit the use of leaded gasoline and also asbestos insulation.

Racount are technology-associated concerns straightforward and also one-sided. Relevant technological facts alone, also as soon as known and also easily accessible (which often they are not), typically do not work out matters totally in favor of one side or the other. The possibilities of reaching great individual or cumulative decisions about innovation depfinish on having indevelopment that neither enthusiasts nor skeptics are always ready to volunteer. The permanent interests of society are ideal served, therefore, by having actually procedures for ensuring that key inquiries concerning proposals to curtail or introduce technology are elevated and also that as a lot pertinent expertise as possible is brought to bear on them. Considering these questions does not ensure that the best decision will certainly always be made, but the faientice to raise crucial concerns will virtually absolutely cause negative decisions. The vital inquiries concerning any kind of proposed new modern technology must incorporate the following: What are alternate methods to attain the very same ends? What advantages and also disbenefits are tright here to the alternatives? What trade-offs would be crucial between positive and also negative side results of each? Who are the main beneficiaries? Who will get few or no benefits? Who will certainly endure as an outcome of the proposed brand-new technology? How long will certainly the benefits last? Will the technology have actually other applications? Whom will certainly they benefit? What will certainly the proposed new innovation cost to develop and operate? How does that compare to the price of alternatives? Will civilization other than the beneficiaries need to bear the costs? Who must underwrite the development costs of a proposed new technology? How will certainly the prices change over time? What will certainly the social costs be? What risks are linked with the proposed new technology? What threats are associated via not utilizing it? Who will be in greatest danger? What risk will the innovation present to various other species of life and to the environment? In the worst possible situation, what trouble could it cause? Who would be held responsible? How can the trouble be undone or limited? What world, products, tools, expertise, and also know-just how will certainly be required to construct, install, and run the proposed brand-new technology? Are they available? If not, exactly how will they be obtained, and from where? What energy resources will certainly be required for construction or manufacture, and also for operation? What sources will certainly be necessary to keep, update, and repair the brand-new technology? What will be done to dispose safely of the brand-new technology"s waste materials? As it becomes obsolete or worn out, how will certainly it be replaced? And ultimately, what will become of the product of which it was made and the people whose jobs depended on it? Individual citizens might hardly ever be in a place to ask or demand answers for these concerns on a public level, yet their understanding of the relevance and prestige of answers increases the attention provided to the inquiries by private enterprise, interest teams, and also public officials. Additionally, people may ask the exact same questions via regard to their very own usage of technology—for instance, their very own usage of effective family members appliances, of substances that add to air pollution, of foods and also fabrics. The cumulative effect of individual decisions deserve to have as great an influence on the large use of modern technology as push on public decisions deserve to.

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Not all such inquiries deserve to be answered readily. Most technological decisions have to be made on the basis of incomplete information, and also political factors are likely to have actually as much affect as technical ones, and also occasionally more. But researchers, mathematicians, and also engineers have actually a unique role in looking as much ahead and also as far aarea as is useful to estimate benefits, side impacts, and also risks. They have the right to also aid by designing adequate detection devices and security approaches, and by establishing up procedures for the collection and also statistical evaluation of relevant data.

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