We live in a time where technology is everywhere. Most people cannot survive without their cell phone these days. We look for technological solutions to nearly all our problems. We look to address behavioral problems with medicine and we used to use techniques like frontal lobotomies and shock therapy to address extremely disturbed persons or criminals. However, in many cases these are not the correct remedy. In many cases simply understanding what is causing a child with behavioral problems can alleviate them without actually need to resort to extreme measures such as medicine, which likely will not fix the root cause of the problem and are merely band aid remedies to the symptoms.
In other cases we use technology to solve problems that technology created, such as pollution. We are developing tools like Carbon Sequestering which is intended to capture carbon from the atmosphere and then store it underground. However, even though this seems like a fantastic solution, there are serious difficulties with applying a purely engineering based solution. A lot of people are deeply concerned about the impact of captured carbon sequestering on their property value or health of residents living in the area.
In my next few blog posts I plan to explore different challenges facing the world in the next few years or decades and discuss some potential socio-technical solutions to the problems. Technology alone cannot save us from ourselves. There needs to be a combination of education, choice of technologies applied and open discussion and inclusion to affect real change.
Each of the posts that will be in this series will discuss different topics and I’m going to focus on three major technology fields that will have a huge impact in the future development of our society. The first I’m going to look at is water. Water is important because in arid regions it’s in very short supply. There is a huge demand in regions like the US southwest and of course many areas within Africa.
The second will be energy. This of course is a very contested technology field. There are many different competing technologies for the next big energy source. It’s under debate whether we’ve reached peak oil or not, if nuclear power is safe and if we should actually shut down coal plants.
The final technology will be food production. There’s a big debate over the humanness of slaughtering animals and the environmental impact of large pig farms. In many areas of the world there are shortages of food supplies. In much of Africa there is brutal starvation, there is starvation in the US and developing the right technologies to can alleviate the problems.
I hope to put forth different ranges of technologies that will solve these problems as well as potential social arguments that will make the changes easier to implement.