Nye ch. 9

Can technology make us safer?  What are the tradeoffs?  Is technology the best approach?
risk vs. reality Concepts to watch out for:

It is all about tradeoffs
Current safety issues
Example: increased security screening in airports Safer:
how much safety technology is too much?
Less safe:
Football helmets:force of hits in NFL
How big does a risk have to be for the government to regulate it?

 Technological Fix: we can fix something with technology and not have to change our behavior.

Nye considers two kinds of examples, accidents and military technology.  He has a political view you may not agree with on military technology, but you need to understand the arguments he is making whether you agree or not.

Is a technology safe?  This turns out to be a complicated question
Why do we react strongly to technological disasters? (maybe less so than 30 years ago) Disasters usually have complex causes
challenger accident

As our world becomes more technological, risks increase
As technologies become more complex and more interwoven into large systems it becomes harder to anticipate all possible accidents.
How much is worth spending on safety:

All of these problems can apply to military technologies, but in addition military technologies have gotten us into the pattern of believing that greater destructive power makes us safer.  Nye questions this.  The more weapons we have the safer we are--is this true?
              only winning move is not to play
Consider the arms race of the Cold War--let me try to tell the story more neutrally than Nye does:
People have often made the argument that increasingly destructive military technology would make war so horrible that governments would no longer dare start wars

If anything the opposite has happened, at least for small wars: the U.S. uses technology to reduce the number of American soldiers killed, which makes war more politically acceptable

This page written and copyright Pamela E. Mack
HIST 1220
last updated 11/16/2016