Techno-Fix

Michael Huesemann & Joyce Huesemann believe technology won't save us or the environment, but rather hastens collapse.


| May 2013



Techno-Fix

Why Technology Won't Save Us or the Environment

Cover Courtesy New Society Publishers

Techno-Fix (New Society Publishers, 2011) shows that negative unintended consequences of technology are inherently predictable and unavoidable, techno-optimism is completely unjustified, and modern technology, in the presence of continued economic growth, does not promote sustainability, but hastens collapse. The co-authors demonstrate that most technological solutions to social and technology-created problems are ineffective. They explore the reasons for the uncritical acceptance of new technologies, show who really controls the direction of technological change, and then advocate extensive reform. 

There are few who are not impressed by the seemingly endless stream of technological innovations: computers, cell-phones, video cameras, the Internet and countless electronic devices. New technologies often have an immediate appeal, with attention being focused on short-term benefits while long-term negative consequences are not anticipated.

As Jerry Mander observes,

We are hypnotized by the newness of the machine, dazzled by its flash and impressed with its promise.... Compounding this problem is the fact that every technology presents itself in the best possible light. Each technology is invented for a purpose and it announces itself, as it were, in these terms. It arrives on the scene as a “friend”, promising to solve a problem.... What’s more, the new machines actually do what they promise to do, which leaves us feeling pleased and impressed. It is not until much later, after a technology has been around for a while — bringing with it other compatible technologies, altering economic arrangements and family and community life, affecting culture, and having unpredictable impact on the land — that societies both familiar and unfamiliar with the machine begin to realize that a Faustian bargain has been made.

As was pointed out earlier, it is inherently impossible to design new technologies that are guaranteed to never have negative effects of any kind (Chapter 1). Certain segments of the population will profit and other segments will not. Those who enjoy the benefits are likely to be techno-optimists. Unfortunately, the mass media exploit the public’s ignorance and the inherent fascination with novelty to promote the false view that there will be only positive effects both now and in the future. This is done by presenting the most positive aspects of a new technology while omitting to mention potential negative side effects. As Jerry Mander writes,

That our society would tend to view new technology favorably is understandable. The first waves of news concerning any technical innovation are invariably positive and optimistic. That’s because, in our society, the information is purveyed by those who stand to gain from our acceptance of it: corporations and their retainers in the government and scientific communities. None is motivated to report the negative sides of new technologies, so the public gets its first insights and expectations from sources that are clearly biased.