Science/Technology
Science_Technology
 

 

argaiv1913

 

 

* Marine Biotechnology: Enabling Solutions for Ocean Productivity and Sustainability. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Paris: OECD, Sept 2013, 116p, $33 (e-book). Biodiversity in the oceans "offers manifold possibilities for development and exploitation." Marine biotechnology has the potential to contribute to economic and social prosperity, through food production, new sources of renewable energy (i.e. algal biofuels), and products for health and well-being. Presents scientific and technological tools at the center of a renewed interest in marine biotechnology and examines how these advances are improving our understanding of marine life and facilitating access to, and study of, marine organisms and ecosystems. But a governance framework is needed to enable development of marine bioresources in a sustainable manner, and it would be most effective at the international level. New indicators are also needed to measure the impact of investment and government policies. (OCEAN SUSTAINABILITY * MARINE BIOTECHNOLOGY)

 

*Prometheus Reimagined: Technology, Environment, and Law in the Twenty-First Century.  Albert C. Lin (Prof of Law, U of California, Davis).  Ann Arbor MI: U of Michigan Press, Dec 2013, 316p, $75.  Technologies such as synthetic biology, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and geoengineering will be life-changing and controversial in the coming decades.  While they promise to address many of our most serious problems, they also bring environmental and health-related risks and uncertainties.  Moreover, they can come to dominate global production systems and markets with very little public input or awareness.  Existing government institutions and processes do not adequately address the risks of new technologies, nor do they give much consideration to the concerns of persons affected by them.  Laws are needed to anticipate future technological developments and their potential adverse effects, and to encourage international cooperation and the development of common global standards, while allowing for flexibility and reassessment.
(SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * TECHNOLOGY RISKS AND LAW)
* Prometheus Reimagined: Technology, Environment, and Law in the Twenty-First Century.  Albert C. Lin (Prof of Law, U of California, Davis).  Ann Arbor MI: U of Michigan Press, Dec 2013, 316p, $75.  Technologies such as synthetic biology, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and geoengineering will be life-changing and controversial in the coming decades.  While they promise to address many of our most serious problems, they also bring environmental and health-related risks and uncertainties.  Moreover, they can come to dominate global production systems and markets with very little public input or awareness.  Existing government institutions and processes do not adequately address the risks of new technologies, nor do they give much consideration to the concerns of persons affected by them.  Laws are needed to anticipate future technological developments and their potential adverse effects, and to encourage international cooperation and the development of common global standards, while allowing for flexibility and reassessment.  (SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * TECHNOLOGY RISKS AND LAW)

 

*To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism. Evgeny Morosov (contributing editor, The New Republic). NY: Public Affairs, 2013, 413p, $28.99. Author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom (2011), which shows the resilience of authoritarian regimes to digital technologies, questions both the means and the ends of Silicon Valley’s latest quest to “solve problems.” Many bright people in Silicon Valley and beyond find this frictionless future enticing and inevitable. But questioning is necessary. “Hence the premise of this book: Silicon Valley’s quest to fit us all into a digital straightjacket by promoting efficiency, transparency, certitude, and perfection—and, by extension, eliminating their evil twins of friction, opacity, ambiguity, and imperfection.” (p.xiii) This book “attempts to factor in the true costs of this highly awaited paradise and to explain why they have been so hard to account for.” (p.xiv) Chapters discuss “solutionism” (“an unhealthy preoccupation with sexy, monumental, and narrow-minded solutions—the kind of stuff that wows audiences at TED Conferences”; p.6), the myths of online learning, the nonsense of “Internet-centrism” (the internet is regularly invoked to thwart critical thinking), the messiahs of openness (seen as a fail-safe solution to virtually any problem), the Pirate Parties in Europe who advocate privacy and free expression, techno-escapists vs. techno-rationalists, the “Abundance” promises of Singularity University, the perils of algorithmic gatekeeping, surviving big data, the rise of uncritical critics, how “predictive policing” will profit from big data, the “doublespeak” of Kevin Kelly’s view of what technology wants, the “datasexual” as an increasingly ubiquitous archetype (“they’re relentlessly digital, they obsessively record everything about their personal lives, and they think that data is sexy”; p.227), the dangers of the Quantified Self movement, the earlier technological critiques of Ivan Illich and Jacques Ellul, the superhuman condition, false and imaginary cosmopolitans (Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg believes that if only we were all connected, all misunderstanding would cease), and the “gamification” trend toward introducing game incentives into diverse social practices. Concludes that we need a meaningful debate about the desirability of technological fixes, and why some fixes are better than others. “Technology is not the enemy; our enemy is the romantic and revolutionary problem-solver who resides within.” (p.358) [NOTE: A withering but wordy critique.] [COMMUNICATION * SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * “SOLUTIONISM” QUESTIONED * SILICON VALLEY]

 

*Social Acceleration: A New Theory of Modernity. Hartmut Rosa (Prof of Sociology and Pol Sci, Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena and visiting professor, New School; former Harvard U). Translated by Jonathan Trejo-Mathys (translator). NY: Columbia U Press, June 2013, 496p, $35. Rosa advances an account of the temporal structure of society from the perspective of critical theory; three categories of change in the tempo of modern social life are identified: 1) technological acceleration, evident in transportation, communication, and production; 2) the acceleration of social change, reflected in cultural knowledge, social institutions, and personal relationships; and 3) acceleration in the pace of life, which happens despite the expectation that technological change should increase an individual's free time. Our institutions and practices are marked by the "shrinking of the present," a decreasing time period during which expectations based on past experience reliably match the future. Time seems to flow ever faster, making our relationships to each other and the world fluid and problematic. Modern life is experienced as if we were standing on "slippery slopes," a steep social terrain that is itself in motion and in turn demands faster lives and technology. (MODERNITY * SOCIAL ACCELERATION * TECHNOLOGY AND MODERN LIFE * "PRESENT SHRINKING")


* Robot Futures. Illah Reza Nourbakhsh (Prof of Robotics, Carnegie Mellon U; director, Community Robotics Lab).  Cambridge MA: MIT Press, March 2013, 160p, $24.95.  We are inventing a new species that is part material and part digital. Future robots will have superhuman abilities in both the physical and digital realms. They will be embedded in our physical spaces, with the ability to go where we cannot, will have minds of their own (thanks to artificial intelligence), and will be fully connected to the digital world.  Nourbakhsh considers how we will share our world with these creatures, and how our society could change as it incorporates a race of stronger, smarter beings. His imagined future includes adbots offering interactive custom messaging; robotic flying toys that operate by means of “gaze tracking”; robot-enabled multimodal, multi-continental telepresence; and even a way that nanorobots could allow us to assume different physical forms.  Each chapter describes a form of technological empowerment—in some cases, “empowerment run amok, with corporations and institutions amassing even more power and influence, and individuals becoming unconstrained by social accountability. Also offers a counter-vision of robotics designed to create civic and community empowerment. (ROBOT FUTURES * SOCIETY * SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY)

 

*Nanotechnology for a Sustainable World: Global Artificial Photosynthesis as Nanotechnology’s Moral Culmination. Thomas Faunce (Australian National U).  Northampton MA: Edward Elgar, June 2012, 232p, $110. Does humanity have a moral obligation to emphasize nanotechnology’s role in addressing the critical public health and environmental problems of our age? Faunce analyzes prospects for a macroscience nanotechnology-for-environmental- sustainability project in areas such as food, water, energy supply, medicine, health care, peace and security.  Also considers some of the key scientific and governance challenges such a global project may face. The moral culmination of nanotechnology is a Global Artificial Photosynthesis project: “the symmetric patterns of energy-creating photosynthesis, life and us are shaping not only the nanotechnological advances of artificial photosynthesis, but also the ethical and legal norms likely to best govern such scientific achievements to form a sustainable existence on this planet.” (NANOTECHNOLOGY FOR SUSTAINABILITY * GLOBAL ARTIFICIAL PHOTOSYNTHESIS PROJECT? * SUSTAINABILITY * SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY)

 

* OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2012.  OECD. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Sept 2012, 280p, $58 (e-book).  Short-term shocks linked to the economic crisis, and long-term shocks (environmental, demographic, societal), have put OECD economies before unprecedented challenges. Under extremely stringent budgetary constraints, governments are mobilizing all policy domains to design appropriate responses for reaching strong and sustainable growth.  They must seize the opportunities offered by the Internet and global markets, as well as mobilize the main assets of their countries – human capital, knowledge capital, and creativity. In this agenda, innovation policies are given a pivotal role; they need relevance, coherence and inclusiveness in order to achieve efficiency and effectiveness. Chapters discuss the impact of the global financial and public debt crises on innovation; the transition to green innovation (technology-push approaches and organizational and institutional changes); recent national strategies in support of green innovation; the potential contribution of science/technology innovation to meeting the challenges of ageing societies;  innovation in developing and emerging economies (its impact on social inequalities/inclusive development); national strategies for STI; governance structures and arrangements for STI; evaluation of STI policies, etc.  (SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * INNOVATION)

 

*Knowledge Networks and Markets in the Life Sciences.  OECD.   Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, May 2012, 100p.  Introduces the concept of “knowledge networks and markets” (KNMs), arguing that creation of such exchange mechanisms is an important new trend in the life sciences, particularly in the health sector, “with potentially profound influence on the innovation process.”  In the last five years, there has been “an explosion” of initiatives in the life sciences to bring together dispersed and diverse elements of the research infrastructure and simplify the learning process.  Topics include the changing “knowledge complex” in the biosciences, the functioning of KNMs, benefits of KNMs (accelerating health innovation, reducing risks and costs of R&D, reducing health-care expenditures), how infotech informs the design of knowledge networks, case studies of KNMs currently in use, future trends in valuation of biotechnology and pharmaceutical assets (and the companies that hold them), and the support that KNMs currently enjoy from government.   (HEALTH * METHODS * KNOWLEDGE NETWORKS * SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY)

 

* Energy Technology Perspectives 2012: Pathways to a Clean Energy System. International Energy Agency. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, June 2012, 700p, $210pb and e-book.  Demonstrates how energy technologies – from electric vehicles to smart grids – can make a decisive difference in limiting climate change and enhancing energy security.  Presents detailed scenarios and strategies to 2050, and guides decision makers on energy trends and what needs to be done to build a clean, secure and competitive energy future. Topics of this bi-annual edition include: 1) current progress on clean energy deployment, and what can be done to accelerate it; 2) how energy security and low carbon energy are linked; 3) how energy systems will become more complex in the future; 4) why systems integration is beneficial and how it can be achieved; 5) how demand for heating and cooling will evolve dramatically and which solutions will satisfy it; 6) why flexible electricity systems are increasingly important, and how a system with smarter grids, energy storage, and flexible generation can work; 7) why hydrogen could play a big role in the energy system of the future; 8) why fossil fuels will not disappear but will see their roles change, and what it means for the energy system as a whole; 9) what is needed to realize the potential of carbon capture and storage (CCS); and 10) whether available technologies can allow the world to have zero energy related emissions by 2075 - which seems a necessary condition for the world to meet the 2°C target. (ENERGY TO 2050 * CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGY * SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY)

 

*Meeting Global Challenges through Better Governance: International Co-operation in Science, Technology and Innovation. OECD.  Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, June 2012, 244p, $58 (e-book).  In recent years, the need to address social and environmental challenges has grown in urgency. Climate change, global health, food security and many other global challenges cross national borders and affect a wide range of actors. Yet, in most cases, single governments cannot provide effective solutions. Global challenges call for co-operation on a global scale to build capacity in science, technology and innovation (STI) at both national and international levels. The report looks at how international co-operation in STI can be scaled up and its scope broadened, as well as how different modes of governance of international co-operation in STI function and lead to effective and efficient collaboration. Case studies focus on 1) the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (a 40-year old strategic partnership that supports a network of 15 international agricultural research centers working for eradicating hunger and poverty at the global level; CGIAR recently adjusted its organizational structure); 2) The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and its Global Health Program (whose governance mechanisms support technological progress and particularly development of new vaccines); 3) the Group on Earth Observations (which coordinates and integrates global activities related to production and dissemination of Earth observations to meet global challenges such as climate change, agriculture and health; its approach to developing the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) within 10 years affects its governance model); 4) the International Atomic Energy Agency (two IAEA programs directly related to international co-operation in STI and deployment of new knowledge and innovations lack an implementing structure at the country level, but rely on built partnerships with member country organizations or countries belonging to the UN); 5) the International Energy Agency (fosters multilateral research collaboration on energy-related issues); 6) The Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (a regional organization that deals with the impact of global change); 7) European Joint Programming Initiatives (decribes the JPI on agriculture, food security, and climate change). The report also reviews the literature on five dimensions of international STI governance: priority setting, funding and spending arrangements, intellectual property, putting STI into practice, and capacity building.  (GLOBAL GOVERNANCE * SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * WORLD FUTURES * INNOVATION)

 

* Transhumanist Dreams and Dystopian Nightmares: The Promise and Peril of Genetic Engineering.  Maxwell J. Mehlman (Prof of Bioethics, Prof of Law, and director, Law-Medicine Center, Case Western Reserve U). Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins U Press, Oct 2012, 288p, $29.95.  Transhumanists advocate development and distribution of technologies that will enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities, even eliminate aging.  Whether scientists are dubious or optimistic about the prospects for directed evolution, they tend to agree that 1) it is inevitable that humans will attempt to control their evolutionary future, and 2) in the process of learning how to direct evolution, we are bound to make mistakes. Our responsibility is to learn how to balance innovation with caution.    Mehlman considers the use of engineering to direct the future of human evolution; addresses scientific and ethical issues without choosing sides in the dispute between transhumanists and their challengers; and reveals that radical forms of genetic engineering could become a reality much sooner than many people think, and that we need to encourage risk management efforts. (SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * TRANSHUMANISM * GENETIC ENGINEERING * DIRECTED EVOLUTION)

* The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and InheritanceNessa Carey (former Senior Lecturer, Imperial College in London).  NY: Columbia U Press, March 2012, 352p, $26.95.  Epigenetics has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the structure and behavior of biological life on earth.  It explains why mapping an organism’s DNA code is not enough to determine how it develops or acts, and shows how nurture combines with nature to engineer biological diversity.  Epigenetics is now informing our understanding of drug addiction, cancer, malnutrition, mental disorders such as schizophrenia, and the physical and psychological consequences of childhood trauma.  Offers future directions of research and the potential for epigenetics to improve human health and well-being.  (SCIENCE * EPIGENETICS * BIOLOGY AND  EPIGENETICS * HEALTH)

 

*The Decadence of Industrial Societies: Disbelief and Discredit, Volume OneBernard Stiegler (Centre Pompidou, Paris).  Translated by Daniel Ross.  Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2011, 200p, $24.95pb.  New informational technologies, harnessed by out-of control capitalism, destroy collective memory by creating a crisis of belief--a disintegration of symbolic and financial credit.  Refutes the optimistic view of new technologies as facilitators of learning and progress.  Rather, technologies are interwoven with intelligence, temporality, and desire in ways that are more profound and sinister than commonly appreciated.  The industrial model implemented since the beginning of the 20C has become obsolete, leading capitalist democracies to an impasse, as indicated by the banalization of consumers who become caught up in mediated networks concerned with the creation and reproduction of desire.  Also see Uncontrollable Societies of Disaffected Individuals: Disbelief and Discredit, Volume Two by Bernard Stiegler  (Polity Press, June 2012, 200p, $24.95pb), arguing that capitalism is collapsing into a disturbing kind of destructive irrationality, as hyper-power is inverted into hyper-vulnerability and impotence.  (SOCIETY * TECHNOLOGY CRITIQUED *   INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY DECADENCE )

 

*Regulating Technological Innovation: A Multidisciplinary Approach. Edited by Michiel A. Heldeweg (Prof of Public Governance Law, U of Twente, the Netherlands) and Evisa Kica (Dept of Legal & Economic Governance Studies, U of Twente).  NY & UK: Palgrave Macmillan, Jan 2012, 248p, $95. Examines regulatory issues of fostering technological innovation and its applications; combines legal, economic and administrative science perspectives; and answers important questions such as what type of regulatory framework would best fit the needs of technology and innovation developments.  Topics consider telecoms regulation, transnational regulation of technology, the European patent system, smart rules and regimes, and informal international law. (INNOVATION POLICY * SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * REGULATING TECHNOLOGY)

 

*Welcome to the Future Cloud: Mobile People, Green Profit & Happy Countries.  Marcel Bullinga (Amsterdam NL; www.futurecheck.com).  Future Check, 2011, 190p, E29.50.  Futurist and keynote speaker describes The Cloud as “the new face of the 21st century: the next wave of global innovation.”  The Cloud is a hyper mix of real life and virtual life, connecting information, money, energy, people, cars, houses, and cities.  It will mature somewhere between 2020 and 2030, and solve most but not all current crises (energy, climate, population, financial system—the only real crisis is hyper-diversity in our cities leading to loss of cohesion and clash of cultures).  Everything will be Cloud: around 2025 we will have cheap and unlimited energy from the sun, local money stimulating local economies, intelligent “anti-fraud” money to reduce fraud, personal factories producing cheap and high-quality 3D products, urban farms as standard, green buildings, CO2 turned into fuel, personal dashboard/control centers, more time left as we work and relax in our self-driving electric car, better education due to high quality and cheap distant education on screen, open access science and government, more consumer power thanks to the multipurpose mobile, a global economic boom due to social robots and smart software, mass immigration, much more efficient law enforcement, supermaterials made from abundant local sources, the last paper book printed, all information and amusement in personalized form, administrative red tape reduced  90% by smart software, China and India in the top ten of happy countries--BUT many Cloud Addicts who have lost the ability to concentrate and focus.  [Note: A book unlike any other: slickly produced with photos, colorful graphics, glossy paper, and many overlapping lists of 2025 predictions.  Obviously upbeat and hyper-techie; provocative and somewhat plausible.  Generally informal and frenetic style, but cites some respectable sources.  For sharp contrast, see Millett’s “Managing the Future.”]  (WORLD FUTURES * TECHNOLOGY * CLOUD TECHNOLOGY)

* Rethinking Patent LawRobin Feldman (Prof of Law, U of California, Berkeley).  Cambridge MA: Harvard U Press, June 2012, 294p, $45 (also as e-book).  Scientific and technological innovations are forcing patent law into the spotlight and revealing its many glaring inadequacies, e.g.: “patent trolling,” where patents are acquired for the sole purpose of entrapping companies whose products relate to them.  We assume patents set clear boundaries for rights to an invention, but, in reality, they do not.  When an invention is so new that we do not understand what it can do and how to apply it, unambiguous description for all time is impossible.  Feldman urges lawmakers to craft rules that anticipate the bargaining that will occur as rights unfold.  Thus, lawmakers can help courts answer questions such as whether genes, software, and business methods constitute patentable subject manner, whether patents in life science should control inventions that have yet to be discovered, and how to resolve battles between pharmaceutical companies and generics. (SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY AND PATENT LAW * PATENT LAW RECONSIDERED * LAW AND PATENTS)

 

* Future Prospects for Industrial BiotechnologyOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.  Paris: OECD, Sept 2011, 140p.  The field of industrial biotechnology has moved rapidly in recent years as a combined result of international political desire, especially in the case of biofuels, and unprecedented progress in molecular biology research that has supplied enabling technologies.  Different geographical regions  have different priorities, but common drivers are climate change mitigation and the desire for energy independence.  “Over 70 countries now have bioenergy targets”  and it is clear that Asia will have a major role in future developments.  The report examines  international drivers, the enabling technologies that are fast-tracking Industrial Biotechnology (e.g., the new discipline of synthetic biology that creates synthetic life forms and enzymes), industry trends (e.g. biodegradable plastics and biofuels), some of the products that are appearing on the market, the first “industrial technology blockbuster” in terms of sales, industry structure and finance (many companies are small SMEs, often spinouts from universities that find survival difficult), and  policy measures and trends (the need for internationally agreed standards as biofuels globalize).                              (SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY *
BIOTECHNOLOGY TRENDS * INDUSTRIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY * SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY) 
 
*Synthetic Biology: Science, Business, and PolicyLewis D. Solomon (Research Prof of Law, George Washington U).  Piscataway NJ: Transaction Publishers, Sept 2011, 150p, $39.95.  For nearly 40 years, using recombinant DNA tools, researchers and then businesses have genetically engineered organisms by transferring naturally occurring genes. By freeing scientists from the need to find natural genes, synthetic biology permits more complex and sophisticated bioengineering than what can be achieved through previous genetic modification techniques; it strives to rearrange an organism’s genes on a far wider scale than by rewriting its engineering code.  By rewriting artificial genetic codes, synthetic biology can transform exiting industries and spawn new ones, creating new products as well as radically reshaping existing items.  Recommends a policy framework that would guard against governmental over-regulation, which would stifle innovation. 
(SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY * BIOENGINEERING)
 
* Synthetic Biology: Science, Business, and PolicyLewis D. Solomon (Research Prof of Law, George Washington U).  Piscataway NJ: Transaction Publishers, Sept 2011, 150p, $39.95.  For nearly 40 years, using recombinant DNA tools, researchers and then businesses have genetically engineered organisms by transferring naturally occurring genes. By freeing scientists from the need to find natural genes, synthetic biology permits more complex and sophisticated bioengineering than what can be achieved through previous genetic modification techniques; it strives to rearrange an organism’s genes on a far wider scale than by rewriting its engineering code.  By rewriting artificial genetic codes, synthetic biology can transform exiting industries and spawn new ones, creating new products as well as radically reshaping existing items.  Recommends a policy framework that would guard against governmental over-regulation, which would stifle innovation. 
(SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY * BIOENGINEERING)
 
* Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked ScienceMichael Nielsen.  Princeton NJ: Princeton U Press, Nov 2011, 280p, $24.95.  A “pioneer of quantum computing” asserts that scientists are using the internet to dramatically expand our problem-solving ability and increase our combined brainpower.  “We are living at the dawn of the most dramatic change in science in more than 300 years.”  This change is being driven by powerful new cognitive tools, enabled by the Internet, which are accelerating scientific discovery and “transforming the nature of our collective intelligence.”  Discusses the Polymath project, in which mathematicians are spontaneously coming together to collaborate online, and project Galaxy Zoo that involves 250,000 amateur astronomers who work together to understand the large-scale structure of the universe and are making astonishing discoveries.  (SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * SCIENCE AND INTERNET * INTERNET AND SCIENCE DISCOVERY * COMMUNICATION * NETWORKED SCIENCE)

 * Health Care Comes Home: The Human Factors.  National Research Council.  Washington: National Academies Press, Sept 2011, 200p, $32pb.  In the US, health care devices, technologies, and practices are rapidly moving into the home due to the costs of health care, the growing number of older adults, the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions and diseases, improved survival rates for people with those conditions and diseases, and a wide range of technical innovations.  The health care that results differs considerably in its safety, effectiveness, and efficiency, as well as in quality and cost.  There are design problems and imbalances between technological system demands and the capabilities of users.  Recommendations cover 1) regulation of health care technologies, 2) proper training and preparation for people who provide in-home care, and 3) modification of existing housing into better residential health care.  (Also see The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, NAP, 2010, 620p, $49.95.)                                                     (HEALTH * SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY)

 
* The Future of Collective BeliefsGerald Bronner (Prof of Sociology, U of Strasbourg).  Trans. By Peter Hamilton.  Oxford UK: The Bardwell Press, Jan 2011, 200p, L65.  Examines the social processes that perpetuate all types of strange and erroneous ideas, and the weird and wonderful domain of the cognitive market for ideas.  We may think that scientific progress roots out the seeds of false belief; rather, “the advance of reason opens up new terrains on which the weeds of error can flourish,” in which reason leads us to the irrational.  Thus our contemporary societies are characterized by “remarkable progress in science and technology, and a no less remarkable continuity of all sorts of beliefs.”  The belief that collective beliefs will disappear was held in the 1960s by such sociologists as Daniel Bell, Seymour Lipset, Talcott Parsons, and Edward Shils, who thought it possible to predict the “end of political ideologies” in Western democracies.  But this is “an implicitly optimistic and progressivistic representation of the history of human thought…this conception of things is in itself ideological and constitutes as soon as it is expressed the very negation of the idea that it puts forward.”  [Note: Important and timely.]                      (SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * METHODS * IRRATIONAL BELIEF)
 
* Technology for a Quieter AmericaNational Research Council.  Washington DC: National Academies Press, Jan 2011, 216p (9x11”), $44pb.  “Clearly, exposure to excessive noise can affect our quality of life.”  Efforts to manage noise exposure; to design quieter buildings, products, equipment, and transportation vehicles; and to provide regulatory environment that facilitates adequate, cost-effective, sustainable noise controls require our immediate attention.  Reviews standards and regulations that govern noise levels and the federal, state, and local agencies that regulate noise for the benefit, safety, and wellness of society at large.  Presents cost-benefit trade-offs between efforts to mitigate noise and the improvements they achieve.                                (SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * NOISE REDUCTION)
 
* The Techno-Human ConditionBraden R. Allenby (Prof of Engineering and Ethics, Arizona State U) and Daniel Sarewitz (Prof of Science and Society, Arizona State U).  Cambridge: MIT Press, March 2011, 256p, $27.95.  We have moved beyond external technological interventions to transform ourselves from the inside out:, e.g: our use of customized enhancements such as artificial joints, neurochemical mood modulators, and performance-boosting hormones.  The authors explore what it means to be human in an era of incomprehensible technological complexity and advocate escaping current assumptions about rationality, progress, and certainty, even as we maintain a commitment to fundamental human values.  We need a new humility in the face of rapidly disappearing moorings of the Enlightenment.          (SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * TECHNO-HUMAN CONDITION * COMPLEXITY)
 
* Improving Health Sector Efficiency: The Role of Information and Communication Technologies.  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.  Paris: OECD, June 2010, 156p, free pdf.  Implementing information and communication technologies (ICTs) in clinical care has proven to be a very difficult undertaking: a decade of significant public investments resulted in both successes and highly publicized costly delays and failures.  The general public and the medical profession have failed to reach a consensus on the benefits of electronic record keeping and information exchange.  Uses lessons from case studies in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the US to identify  opportunities offered by ICTs, and to analyze under what conditions these technologies are most likely to result in efficiency and quality-of-care improvements.
   (HEALTH SECTOR EFFICIENCY * INFOTECH AND HEALTHCARE)
 
* Medical Professionalism in the New Information Age.  Edited by David J. Rothman (Prof of Social Medicine, Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons) and David Blumenthal (national coordinator for health information technology, Dept. of Health and Human Services).  Piscataway NJ:  Rutgers U Press, Sept 2010, 224p, $24.95pb.  While computerized health information is receiving unprecedented government support, the intricate legal, social, and professional implications of the new technology need further scrutiny.  Explores how health information technology (HIT) may alter relationship between physicians and patients, undermine physicians’ traditional information monopoly, increase physician legal liability, and heighten expectations about transparency.  An independent HIT profession may emerge, bringing another organized interest into the medical arena.
  (INFOTECH AND HEALTH * HEALTH AND INFOTECH)
 
* S&T Strategies of Six Countries: Implications for the United StatesNational Research Council.  Washington: National Academies Press, 2010/126p (8x11”)/$32pb.  An increase in global access to knowledge and goods is transforming world-class science and technology by brining it within the capability of a growing number of global parties who must compete for resources, markets, and talent.  “Globalization has facilitated the success of formal S&T plans in many developing countries.” As a result, centers for technological R&D are now globally dispersed, setting the stage for greater uncertainty in the political, economic, and security arenas.  “These changes will have a potentially enormous impact for US national security policy, which for the past half century has been premised on US economic and technological dominance.” As the US monopoly on innovation wanes, arms export regulations and restrictions on visas for foreign S&T workers become less useful as security strategies.  This report analyzes S&T strategies of Japan, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Singapore (JBRICS), six countries that are undergoing remarkable growth in their S&T capabilities.  The acute level of S&T competition today suggests that countries that fail to exploit new technologies will find their industries uncompetitive or obsolete.                                             (SCI/TECH * TECHNOLOGY R&D IN SIX COUNTRIES)
 
* What Technology Wants.  Kevin Kelly (Pacifica CA; former executive editor of Wired; www.kk.org) .  NY: Viking, Oct 2010/432p/$27.95.  Technology as a whole is not a jumble of wires and metal, but a living, evolving organism with its own unconscious needs and tendencies.  Examples from the past are used to trace technology’s long course, followed by a dozen trajectories of technology into the near future.  Three practical lessons: 1) by listening to what technology wants, we can better prepare for the inevitable technologies to come; 2) by adopting principles of pro-action and engagement, we can steer technologies into their best roles; 3) by aligning ourselves with the long-term imperatives of this near-living system, we can capture its full gifts and give our lives greater meaning.                  (SCI/TECH)
 
* The Lab: Creativity and CultureDavid Edwards (founding director, Le Laboratoire, Paris and Idea Translation Lab, Harvard U; www.davidideas.com).  Cambridge MA: Harvard U Press, Oct 2010/224p/$22.95.  Describes an emerging cultural phenomenon in the US and Europe where artists and scientists collaborate to produce intriguing cultural content and surprising innovations. Advocates the “artscience lab” (a new kind of educational art lab based on a contemporary science lab model) as a new innovation model.                                            (SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * INNOVATION * “ARTSCIENCE LAB”)
 
* Humanity’s End: Why We Should Reject Radical EnhancementNicholas Agar (Reader in Philosophy, Victoria U of Wellington, New Zealand).  Cambridge MA: MIT Press/Bradford Books, Oct 2010/224p/$32.  Argues against expanding our capacities or life span beyond current possibilities and critiques four advocates of radical enhancement: Ray Kurzweil (who argues that technology will enable us escape human biology), Aubrey de Grey (who calls for therapies that achieve “longevity escape velocity”), Nick Bostrom (who claims enhancement is moral and rational), and James Hughes (who envisions a harmonious democracy of the enhanced and unenhanced).  Argues that 1) the means of enhancing our cognitive powers could kill us; 2) the radical extension of our lives could eliminate experiences of great value; 3) a tyranny of posthumans over humans is possible.
(SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * HUMAN ENHANCEMENT? * LIFE EXTENSION)
 
* World Wide Research: Reshaping the Sciences and Humanities.  Edited by William H. Dutton (Director, Oxford Internet Institute) and Paul W. Jeffries (Director of IT, U of Oxford).  Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, July 2010/424p/$33pb.  Use of increasingly powerful and versatile computer-based and networked systems promises to change research activity as profoundly as the mobile phone, the Internet, and e-mail have changed everyday life.  Offers an overview of these new “e-Research” approaches, their ethical/legal/institutional implications, and how new networks of information and expertise can change what is observed. (SCIENCE * COMMUNICATION * RESEARCH AND INFOTECH)
 
* OECD Information Technology Outlook 2010Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.  Paris: OECD (dist by Brookings Institution Press), Nov 2010/325p/$137pb.  IT and the Internet are major drivers of research, innovation, growth, and social change.  The outlook for IT goods and service industries is good, despite the economic crisis. Analyzes trends in OECD country information and communication technology policies (ICTs).  Policy priorities focus on skills and employment, broadband diffusion, R&D, and venture finance. Also focuses on a major new emphasis on using ICTs to tackle environmental problems and climate change. 
(COMMUNICATION * INFOTECH: OECD OUTLOOK * OECD OUTLOOKS: INFOTECH)
 
* OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2010Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.  Paris: OECD (dist by Brookings Institution Press), Dec 2010/150p/$70pb.  On science and innovation policies in the context of quickly changing global patterns of science and technology. Reviews trends in science, technology, and innovation in OECD member countries and a number of major non-member countries.  Provides a profile of the science and innovation performance of countries, and examines topics high on the agenda of science and innovation policymakers.
(SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY: OECD OUTLOOK * OECD OUTLOOKS: SCI/TECH)
 
* Long-Range Futures Research: An Application of Complexity Science.  Robert H. Samet (Lincolnshire UK; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).  North Charleston SC: BookSurge Publishing, Dec 2008/593p/$49.99pb.  A civil engineer and consultant to the London Megalopolis Regional Information System and various planning ministries explains how the science of evolution and complexity can help explore patterns of global change with a time horizon of 100-150 years, with special attention to growth of the world system of cities.  Chapter topics: societal evolution and futures research (with special attention given to Kenneth Boulding’s Ecodynamics: A New Theory of Societal Evolution; Sage, 1978), metasystems and deep futures (on physical, biological, and civil systems and the need for a unifying evolutionary paradigm), urban investment flows, civil ecostructures, transactional complexity, stages of economic development, evolution of infrastructure systems, trajectory of the world system of cities to 2150, shaping future world development, the geopolitical macrostructure, global macrotrends, and four long-range global scenarios.  [NOTE:  A very broad, generally upbeat, and largely successful synthesis in both time and space, with 40 appendices and a bibliography of some 300 items.] 
(LONG-RANGE FUTURES RESEARCH * CITIES * WORLD FUTURES * COMPLEXITY SCIENCE * FUTURES RESEARCH AND COMPLEXITY * EVOLUTION TO 2150)
 
 ** Sustainability Science: A Multidisciplinary Approach (Sustainability Science, 1 of 5).  Edited by Hiroshi Komiyama (President Emeritus, U of Tokyo), Kazuhiko Takeuchi (Prof of Life Sciences, U of Tokyo), Hideaki Shiroyama (Prof of Law/Politics, U of Tokyo), and Takashi Mino (Prof, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, U of Tokyo).  Tokyo & NY: United Nations U Press, Aug 2010, 375p, $37pb.  On “a new academic discipline” that seeks to help build a sustainable society by developing solutions to climate change, the exhaustion of resources, ecological destruction, etc.   In contrast to widespread fragmentation and specialization of academia, it seeks “comprehensive, integrated solutions to complex problems,” restructures education and research, and spans the natural, social, and human sciences.  Discusses building a new discipline, positioning and connecting between existing sciences, tools and methods, redefining existing academic disciplines, education for sustainability science, and building a global meta-network.            (SUSTAINABILITY SCIENCE SERIES * SCIENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY)
 
* 2030: Technology That Will Change the World.  Rutger van Santen (Faculty of Chemistry, Eindhoven U), Djan Khoe (Prof of Electro-Optical Communication, Eindhoven U), and Bram Vermeer (science journalist).   NY: Oxford U Press, July 2010/264p/$29.95.  Considers the work of more than two dozen experts such as Craig Venter at the leading edge of technology, and possibilities such as micropumps etched onto chips, miniaturization of today’s vast chemical plants, medical nanocapsules that can be triggered remotely, and unexpected connections between fields that may yield new insights.  Also see Technology’s Promise by William E. Halal (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008; FS *30:7/280) on the TechCast assessment of technologies to 2030.                                        (TECHNOLOGY IN 2030)
 
* Handbook of Research on Technoethics (2 volumes)Rocci Luppicini and Rebecca Adell (U of Ottawa, Canada).  Hershey PA: IGI Global, 2009/1,082p/$495 (perpetual access $745).  The 44 contributions by experts from 21 countries cover such topics as the anthropological approach to technoethics, artificial moral agency, biomedical research, cyber identity theft, deception in cyberspace, trends in technoethics, genetic confidentiality, global communication online ethics, human sport enhancement ethics, information ethics education, information poverty ethics, intercultural information ethics, predictive genetic testing, and software piracy.  Also see Encyclopedia of Information Ethics and Security by Marian Quigley of Monash U (IGI Global, 2007/696p).
(ETHICS AND TECHNOLOGY * TECHNOETHICS * CRIME)
 
* The Global Technology Revolution China, Executive Summary: Emerging Technology Opportunities. Richard Silberglitt and Anny Wong. Santa Monica CA: RAND Corp, 2009/72p/$26pb. China’s Tianjin Binhai New Area and Tianjin Economic-Technological Development area commissioned a technology foresight study to help plans for economic growth. Seven emerging technology areas are recommended: solar energy, mobile communication, rapid bioassays, new water-purification systems, molecular-scale drugs, electric and hybrid vehicles, and green manufacturing. Describes drivers and barriers for each. [Also see The Global Technology Revolution 2020 by Silberglitt and ten others (RAND, 2006).]                                                                                      (SCI/TECH * CHINA AND SCI/TECH)
 
* The Bioeconomy to 2030: Designing a Policy Agenda. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. OECD, April 2009/323p/$67pb; free PDF. The biological sciences are adding value to many products and services, with the potential to make major socio-economic contributions. Topics include estimates of biotech developments to 2015, the roles of R&D funding and human resources, institutional and social drivers, external factors that may drive the bioeconomy to 2030, the business of the emerging bioeconomy, intellectual property and regulatory issues, and policy options to support the benefits of a bioeconomy.                                                         (SCI/TECH * BIOECONOMY TO 2030)
 
* More Than Genes: What Science Can Tell Us About Toxic Chemicals, Development and the Risk to Our Children. Dan Agin (Emeritus Associate Prof of Molecular Genetics, U of Chicago; columnist for Huffington Post). NY: Oxford UP, Dec 2009/256p/$27.95. Adding to the nature-nurture debate, it is argued that the fetal environment can be just as crucial as genetic hardwiring or later environment in determining intelligence and behavior; stress during pregnancy and environmental toxins leads to IQ differences in racial/ethnic groups.                                 (TOXIC CHEMICALS * CHILDREN)
 
* Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future. Chris Mooney (Cambridge MA) and Sheril Kirshenbaum (Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke U); www.unscientificamerica.com. NY: Basic Books, June 2010/208p/$15pb (hardcover, 2009). The most urgent problems of the 21C require scientific solutions, yet Americans pay less and less attention to scientists. For every five hours of cable news, <1 minute is devoted to science, and the number of newspapers with science sections has shrunk from 95 to 33 in the past 20 years. Mooney is author of The Republican War on Science (2005) and Storm World (2007). 
(SCI/TECH * EDUCATION * SCIENTIFIC ILLITERACY)
 
 
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust