The nuclear anxiety of the Cold War now seems quaint. While speculative writers of the late 20th-early 21st centuries have largely relegated nukes to the past, the situation at San Onofre reminds us of our sins — of assuming the future would take care of the future. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission enabled this consensual hallucination. Did it take climate change into consideration?
When we see a built world, we tend to take its permanence and stability for granted. For those who have chosen coastal homes, that built world goes back at least 50 years, with few residents ever realizing that oceans, lakes, and rivers are living entities constantly in motion. The average person relies upon experts such as architects and civil engineers, and supposed guardrails such as state building codes and homeowner associations, to assess safety when purchasing property. But the 21st-century assumption that the built world is stable is a risky bet. Especially in “business-friendly” states.
Arizona continues to build, build, build, and instead of requiring new residents to adapt to the climate, city governments and developers market the very bad idea that the desert can be made green, and thus more desirable.
Unless we create real boundaries, enforced by legislation, the social media giants will also walk away from the chaos they have enabled.
Principles taught to STEM students state that “engineers must gain an understanding of all the issues surrounding a particular design challenge. These issues might include the need for the project, relevant social and economic conditions of the target population, and project constraints and requirements.” Engineers and problem-solvers are not the problem. Short-term thinking is the problem. Wishful thinking is the problem. “It will do for now” is the problem.
Why are all of these nations and their assorted consortia heading to Mars? Are they truly exploring to improve the human condition, to expand and share scientific knowledge?
If only we knew more about the world that we live in. If only we understood that all things are interconnected. If only we could learn to value ethics above rank profiteering. We would make better decisions for ourselves and for our society. We would make good moral decisions. But we now know that access to factual knowledge does not necessarily improve the world. We are living that reality today.
Does access to science communication inevitably lead to greater public understanding of science, its discoveries, and their impact? Does access to online data sets inevitably lead to full comprehension of available information by scientists?
While “Ubering” was acquiring cachet as a verb and as a routine rite of passage for millennials (the heaviest users of the service), the company was besieged by problems. Some came squarely on the back of a general lack of ethics, or care for consequences.
The word “regulation” has been demonized by those who back an unfettered world of sink-or-swim markets. Yet the need for order – not to mention the defense of the defenseless – is essential to a free and functioning society.
The assumption has been that consumers will jump at hype. Yet here at the end of 2018, it can be argued that the venality of tech giants has deflated the very hype cycle upon which those companies depend.
Portal says that privacy is “built into every layer.” Despite the company’s reassurances about privacy, users are backing away.
What are the potential consequences of mistrust, fear, or simple disinterest in technologies that have become an actual or perceived necessity to millions?