Of course, what you really don't want is for a bunch of amateurs to then tell you how to do your job. There's the old joke about how first-time parents, when their baby drops a pacifier, will resterilize it in boiling water; second-time parents will give it a quick rinse; third-time parents will shrug, wipe it off on their shirt, and stick it back in the kid. You really wouldn't want a bunch of first-time parents (or non-parents) passing a law mandating that you sterilize everything. What you want is for less-experienced people to learn from more-experienced people.
In this context, here's an interesting new Pew survey of attitudes towards science. What I found most interesting about it is that a lot of the questions on which there were big differences between scientists' opinions and those of the general public were precisely "is this safe" questions tied to the things that scientists deal with every day.
Most of the time, people who know the subject say that something which sounds dangerous is actually perfectly safe: eating genetically modified foods, eating foods grown with pesticides, getting vaccines, building nuclear power plants (!). Perhaps more interestingly, there are some things which the general public thinks is safe which experts say OH HELL NO GET AWAY FROM THAT SWITCH YOU LUNATIC to: allowing climate change and increasing offshore drilling being the two most notable examples. That's part of the same kind of professional eyeball: sometimes you know that something is just a giant deathtrap waiting to happen. Turns out that offshore drilling rigs are far, far more alarming to professionals than nuclear power plants: the former fail all the time, in horribly disastrous ways, while the latter are actually pretty reliable, all told.
We can talk about lots of reasons for this: for example, the media loves to make things sound really scary (because that sells newspapers), or people don't know enough about the details. But really, what's going on is simply the judgment of experience: people who work with various strange and foreign things, day-in and day-out, tend to get a pretty good feeling for what does and doesn't matter. And it's not always going to be obvious which is which: you just have to ask people who know.
Ecologists and environmentalists on the other hand, are seeing resource deprivation and the destruction of the environment as event chains that can possibly lead to the collapse of the current civilization.
The world can not both turn into Paradise and Hell, neither can probably the trajectory be placed on a linear spectrum between the vision espoused by economists and the one proposed by ecologists for future trends."
My own view is tech can solve pretty much all our problems - if we let it.
Mostly its human short term thinking, fears,and never wanting anything to change holding us back.
("oh, you got a lightbulb that uses 1/10th the energy and lasts 10 years? ...hmm...I dont like the fact the light is a little different"
"solar panels on my roof pay for themselves in 5 years?......yeah, but its a lot of money right now"
"You mean GM food can increase yields?.....sure, but I'll stick with pesticides or even species introduction because I understand them"
Essentially though, I think the biggest change from tech is virtualisation of devices and media which drastically reduce our physical consumption.
What tech doesn't do, however, is change our eating habits nor our work structures, both which cause a lot of unnecessary resource use.
Why is the world always “more dangerous than it has ever been”—even as a greater and greater majority of humanity lives in peace and dies of old age?
Too much of our impression of the world comes from a misleading formula of journalistic narration. Reporters give lavish coverage to gun bursts, explosions, and viral videos, oblivious to how representative they are and apparently innocent of the fact that many were contrived as journalist bait. Then come sound bites from “experts” with vested interests in maximizing the impression of mayhem: generals, politicians, security officials, moral activists. The talking heads on cable news filibuster about the event, desperately hoping to avoid dead air. Newspaper columnists instruct their readers on what emotions to feel."
#oa #openaccess #spain #spite
But this is going to be even more entertaining. *grabs popcorn
- JobspottingFounder, 2013 - present
- blackpixelsFounder, 2013 - present
- Support Engineer, Product Quality, 2007 - 2013
- Open University LondonSoftware Development, 2008 - 2012
- University of Duisburg-EssenBusiness Economics, 1998 - 2003
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