The Dark Side of Technology by Peter Townsend

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The book is stronger on analysis of technology’s “dark side” than on enlightened and feasible proposals for change. But in the final chapter, Radical suggestions and a grain of hope, Townsend suggests an intriguing reform of the democratic process.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

Technological progress comes with a Dark Side where good ideas and intentions produce undesirable results. The many and various unexpected outcomes of technology span humorous to bizarre, and even result in situations which threaten our survival. Development can be positive for some, but negative and isolating for others (e.g. older or poorer people). Progress is often transient, as faster electronics and computers dramatically shorten retention time of data and knowledge (e.g. documents, data, and photos will be unreadable within a generation). This is also destroying past languages and cultures in a trend to globalisation. Advances cut across all areas of science and life, and the scope is vast from biology, medicine, agriculture, transport, electronics, computers, long range communications, to a global economy. Our reliance on technology is now matched by vulnerability to natural events (e.g. intense sunspot activity) which could annihilate advanced societies by destroying satellites or power grid distribution. Similarly, progress of electronics and communication produced a boom industry in cyber crime, and cyber terrorism. Medical technology may maintain our health, but we ignore possible drug related mutagenic changes, and we continue with errors in creating a global food economy by devastating the environment and causing extinction of species, just to support an excessive human population. This diverse coverage of the book is consciously presented at a level designed for an intelligent, but non-scientific readership. It includes suggestions for positive future progress with planning, investment, and political commitment, as well as contemplating how failure to respond endangers human survival.
 

About Peter Townsend

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Published January 19, 2017 by OUP Oxford. 343 pages
Genres: Science & Math. Non-fiction
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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by The Telegraph on Feb 07 2017

The book is stronger on analysis of technology’s “dark side” than on enlightened and feasible proposals for change. But in the final chapter, Radical suggestions and a grain of hope, Townsend suggests an intriguing reform of the democratic process.

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