The Argument Against Technological Determinism

Technological determinism is the belief that technological progress in a particular direction is inevitable and inevitably shapes society in a particular way

The path of technological progress is not determined, but once we start down one path it has momentum so is hard to changecyborg

Is it inevitable that we will develop genetic engineering and be able to choose the characteristics of our children?
In what senses do we see technological progress as something that we can't control?Tom Swift and his Giant Robot (1950s book)
In what sense do we behave as if we believe the direction of progress is inevitable?
Technological determinism:
Is it inevitable that the hydrogen powered car will replace the gasoline powered car?

Nye says lots of people assume technological determinism is the way the world works, but historians who study technology are convinced it is not
horse
              drawn vehicles used by the Amish
The old order Amish in Pennsylvania to this day do not use motors
Nye gives some counterexamples and introduces a few historians who argue against determinism:
Then Nye gives a survey of the tradition of technological determinism, showing that even the people who are associated with the idea had more complex views:
Thinking critically about technological determinism gives us two ideas:
Could technology mostly solve the problem of being robbed in the street?cashless society (Apple pay)
the idea that technology will solve problems has been popular with influential thinkers
but it is a dangerous idea, we can't fix human nature with technology
because we can still make choices

What is democracy and is it important?
Instead, says Nye citing Langdon Winner, we make choices all the time.


This page written and copyright Pamela E. Mack
HIST 1220
last updated 11/6/17