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Techno-Fixers : Origins and Implications of Technological Faith

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  • Publisher:
    McGill-Queen's University Press, 2020
    Note: This book was purchased with support from the Government of Canada's Social Development Partnerships Program - Disability Component.


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    This is the story of a seductive idea. Over the past century, the potential of new technology to solve social dilemmas has captivated modern culture. From apps that encourage physical activity to airport scanners meant to prevent terrorism, the concept that clever innovation can improve society is irresistible, but faith in such technological fixes is seldom questioned. Where did this idea come from, what makes it so appealing, and how does it endanger our future? Techno-Fixers traces the source of modern confidence in technology to engineering hubris, radical utopian movements, science fiction fanzines, policy-makers' soundbites, corporate marketing, and optimistic consumer culture from the turn of the twentieth century until today. Sean Johnston demonstrates that, through the promotion of prominent government scientists, technocrats, entrepreneurs, and popular media, modern invention became the favourite tool for addressing human problems and society's ills. Nonetheless, when it comes to assessing the success of cigarette filters as the solution to safe smoking, or DDT as the answer for agricultural productivity, the evidence is sobering. Cautioning that the rhetoric of technological fixes seldom matches reality, Johnston examines how employing innovation to bypass traditional methods can foster as many problems as it solves. A critical examination of modern faith in technology, Techno-Fixers evaluates past mistakes, present implications, and future opportunities for innovating societies.

    Original Publisher: Montreal, McGill-Queen's University Press
    Language(s): English