One of the classic pitfalls in setting policies for the social use of technology is the search for a “technical fix”—a resolution of social and political contradictions through the introduction of new technology. The technical fix represents an attempt to ameliorate economic or social problems without touching the power relationships that lie at their roots. The recent history of American policymaking is littered with the wrecks of technical fixes, from factory-built housing to the MacNamara Line. Yet, these illusory solutions will no doubt remain attractive as long as the desire persists to solve problems cleverly without the inconvenience of disturbing anyone’s entrenched power.
The evident need for new energ...
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