Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences.
In Why Things Bite Back you will learn about such revenge effects as: low-tar cigarettes, which may encourage smokers to defer quitting altogether; the meltdown at Chernobyl, which occurred during a test of enhanced safety designs; and personal office computers, which may cause executives to waste time on what are essentially clerical tasks. The author is not just interested in providing a list of technological ironies. He believes that Murphy's Law (what can go wrong will go wrong) should be seen not as a fatalistic, defeatist principle but as a call for alertness and adaptation. To reduce revenge effects he believes we need to deintensify our quest for "more, better, faster" in favor of finesse (read "delayed reaction" if you want to use a general semantics term) and analysis of consequences.
In agriculture, this means looking at forgoing applications of heavy fertilizer in favor of planting complementary crops in the same fields, increasing both productivity and resilience. In business computing, deintensification requires that we reassess the functional value of "more powerful" new releases of both hardware and software. It also suggest doubts about whether higher workloads and longer days produce greater profits. In medicine, the move away from intensity calls for a shift from heavy reliance on a few antibiotics.
Whether you're a Luddite, a technophile, or a curious observer, this wide-ranging book, written in a literate and lucid style, will have you rethinking the conventional optimism that surrounds technological change. It reminds us that since change is inevitable, knowledge and vigilance are needed to reduce the "revenge of unintended consequences."
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|Author:||Levinson, Martin H.|
|Publication:||ETC.: A Review of General Semantics|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Mar 22, 1997|
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