Technology can be regarded as a phenomenon with vast uncertainties. Technological change is rapid and we are struggling to keep up to date with the latest advances, while learning new ones and trying to prepare for the next changes proposed for the future. In order to do so, however, we need to be clear about what we mean, and what we consider to be a technology and evaluate some of the assumptions of our understanding of our technologically advanced society.
In The Golem at Large, What we should know about technology The authors main purpose is to show their audience that we trust technology too much and don t take into consideration that human error occurs. Much of the world of technology, as suggested by the authors, is built on trust: Trust that the engineers have done their job responsibly, trust that they have the right expertise to do the job properly. The idea that even the best intentions go wrong, and that even well designed technology can go wrong at times. They also emphasize that we tend to blame technical failure rather than the human consumption failing itself. By contrast, they chose to link technology to the golem. The golem was a creature from Jewish mythology and while not evil, is marked by a clumsy drive. Technology, at its cutting edge, will always rage with controversy, because there is no neutral place, nor a central point, in the search for responsibility and accountability of a failed technology.
The authors also try to accomplish certain biased viewpoints throughout this book. They prove this by showing us how the imperfections of technology are related to the uncertainties of science. They are basically trying to show the audience that we need not trust technology completely, because we are the ones who developed it to originally and that humans are really the ones not to be trusted. Many of these cases have a main point to be accomplished by the authors . For example in the Patriot missile story, they try to bring a certain message across to their audience to prove their thesis. Sometimes, issues that the authors attempt to address are raised in the context of technology the are discussing. However, these instances are few and far between and the proposed solutions ,I feel ,can be criticised.
It would seem that the audience that they are trying to capture in this book, I think, are the type of people that pay close attention to media that occur with these type of events. The media seems to play a big role in what many people think are real or truthful events. Myself alone, had no idea that the Patriot missile was so deceiving, but through the deception of the media, I was brought to believe that the missile was a success. And thought as such a technological stud during the Gulf War, the Patriot missile now seems to be quite a dud. But maybe the Patriot missile problem was created by the people who designed it or the.actual user of the system during the war. The point is that maybe we do have too much trust in technology. And when it fails, then there should always be some kind of recourse to actually find out who or what was at fault. So when asked who the audience is again, I would have to say the media. Which in turn is sent to consumers and everyday people like ourselves.
Each chapter in this book seem to have a lot of similarities. They are all just short chapters explaining, again, that the world bases to much trust in the system. But although there are many similarities, there are many different conclusions to draw from each one of these cases. Each having their own conclusions based on each disater or failure. In Nuclear Fuel Flasks, the moral of the story in terms on trust and the whole perspective of the crashes were not that the technology had failed, but more that the public was not given proper access or information to what the actual problem was, so they were forced to draw there own interrpretations of what they actually saw or heard. And another example would be the Challenger space shuttle case. The Golem also concludes in this case that When the public views the fruits of science from a distance, the picture is not just simplified, but more less significantly distorted. So what we actually see or hear is a minuit interrpretation of what actually happened. I would say the thing that ties these chapters together the most is that we are made to believe, through interrpretations, that things really are not as bad as they seem, but in reality, they may just be that bad, but certain people do not want us to know about it or fear to reveal the secret. So basically, without expertise on the subject we really should not make our own judgements, but merely take the advice of the experts.
To back up some of this evidence, the author s try and capture some of the publics viewpoints of each case study. As quoted in the book from the Chernobyl and the Cumbrian Sheepfarmers, Rather than admitting to the uncertainties, they made false claims which in the long run being unsustainable. This encouraged the farmers to change their views of scientists and watch them beck and call to their government masters. This is exactly the point that Pinch and Collins are trying to prove. Should we or should we not have trust in the system of technology or should we go on believing what the so called experts tell us. In cases of technological failure, such as the space shuttle, they say, Invariably humans are accused of causing the failure rather than the failure being recognized as one of a complex technology. Their point also is that we tend always to go for the more human explanation when technologies go wrong. In the cases of the Chernobyl nuclear fallout, where British farmers quickly saw the effects on their animals, and of AIDS, where victims offered advice ,but often bad, the book makes the point that expertise is where knowledge is. “Lay people can have expertise, That doesn’t mean that one voice is as good as another, but that people can contribute and gain expertise. Scientists shouldn’t reject that.” The message they are trying to give is that no one should deny expert advise. Particularly there should be trust in the work of scientists and technologists they are the experts. But this is something that must be decided by the public.
I chose the Challenger space shuttle case to assess. I felt that this was the most important story in comparison to what the main moral of this book was about. As we can see, and what has beed pointed out, that many mistakes are blamed on the technology or the golem of the technology. But in reality, the blame is more human error. The main lesson in this story is that everything should be critical in technology, because if we take things like the Challenger mission for granted, this is the outcome. When we take these technologies for granted, they are most likely going to be negative. So if technology is going to harm us in the long run, we need to be less anxious. It is possible that maybe if the managers were not so pushy with deadlines, then maybe the engineers may have caught the bad O ring and not caused the devastation they caused. I thought that the words provided were appropriate for the ending of this book and also for the case study. We are reminded that a risk-free technology is impossible and that assesing the working of a technology and the risks attached to it are always inescapeable matters of human judgement.