Beyond Engineering: How Society Shapes Technology / Edition 1

Beyond Engineering: How Society Shapes Technology / Edition 1

by Robert Pool
     
 

Every now and then a book comes along with the power to reshape completely how people think about a subject, to teach them to see it in a way that is novel yet simultaneously so natural that they wonder how they ever could have missed it. Beyond Engineering by Robert Pool is such a book. The traditional view of technology is that it is the product of engineers and… See more details below

Overview

Every now and then a book comes along with the power to reshape completely how people think about a subject, to teach them to see it in a way that is novel yet simultaneously so natural that they wonder how they ever could have missed it. Beyond Engineering by Robert Pool is such a book. The traditional view of technology is that it is the product of engineers and inventors, developed in a rational fashion according to arcane scientific principles that are best left to the techo-nerds. But if you look closely enough at the history of any invention, Pool says, you will find that factors unrelated to engineering have an equal and sometimes greater power. In his wide-ranging volume, he traces developments in nuclear energy, automobiles, light bulbs, commercial electricity, and personal computers, among others, to show how historical, political, cultural, organizational, economic, and psychological factors all influence the path a technology takes. Pool demonstrates how seemingly minor decisions made early in the process of technological development can have profound consequences further down the road, and, perhaps most important, he shows how the increasing complexity of modern technology makes it qualitatively different from technology of the past. That complexity creates uncertainty, making it impossible for engineers to predict exactly how well a technology will perform or to foresee all the things that can go wrong, thus making nontechnical factors all the more important. Citing such catastrophes as Bhopal, Three Mile Island, the Exxon Valdez, the Challenger, and Chernobyl, he argues that we can no longer afford to think of technology exclusively in engineering terms but must takeinto account non-engineering influences as well. Whether discussing bovine growth hormone, molten-salt reactors, or baboon-to-human transplants, Beyond Engineering is an engaging look at modern technology and an illuminating account of how technology and the modern world shape each o

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195107722
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
07/17/1997
Series:
Sloan Technology Series
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.21(d)
Lexile:
1300L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Table of Contents

Preface to the Sloan Technology Series
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Understanding Technology3
1History and Momentum17
2The Power of Ideas53
3Business85
4Complexity119
5Choices149
6Risk177
7Control215
8Managing the Faustian Bargain249
9Technical Fixes, Technological Solutions279
Notes307
Index349

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