~e; public technology policies (OTA)
brian carroll <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sat, 29 May 2004 10:19:32 -0500
One thing dawned on me recently which was
a repeat of a previous feeling, yet this time with
more evidence as to why the Office of Technology
Assessment, part of the .US government review
process (in a sense, checks and balances of the
facts used by politicians to review issues) that was
disbanded to great ill effect in that, many issues
seem to have their own facts, driven by groups in
which lobbying may be hard to differentiate from
review of technologies and their cultural impact
or even effectiveness. In the .US where 'technology
and science' are almost state-religion, and a set of
belief's in their infallibility (say, by default superiority
in warfighting) -- that the detached review of science
and technology in relation to state issues may be an
area where the OTA should be reinstated to bring a
non-politicized review of programs without agendas,
to judge their ability to successfully meet the tasks at
hand, that is, can they do what they are said to do,
or does one need to trust technological benevolence
and a political omniscience, that all things just work.
By having ridded a review process for technological
assessment of claims, for which it is supposed that
politicians can then use these shared facts upon
which to reason a case, instead it is the politicians
who come up with the facts, and persuade based on
issues other than science and technological review.
At this level, it would be a matter of belief, even faith
in technology to be without question 'good' in itself.
To the contrary it has been shown that electronic
and other types of voting are at issue, programs for
the Osprey hybrid aircraft, genetic engineering, the
development of missile defense without successful
testing, the unfettered access to database records,
the surveillance state being assembled without any
government review into its ability to address what is
said to be the need and the success rate for such an
approach and investment, the further development
of energy task force approaches to pre-9/11 energy
planning (actually, 20th century agenda, in terms
of global warming, energy efficiency, economics).
Any number of these things could have been part
of a review of the success of certain approaches or
ideas yet by disbanding the OTA (which I think Newt
Gingrich (GOP) was somehow involved in) made it
no longer possible to have checks and balances of
these proposals, and oversight of claims made.
Thus, electronic voting issues are left to politicized
groups who, for however far away from the actual
political sphere, are critiqued in their views as being
partisan in nature, when it may be a scientific and
technological and cultural question under review.
Even such things as nuclear security, war gaming
models, wireless development versus the patterns
of global trends, broadband and the economy (and
pollution, say). The facts are always different given
who is talking, unless an organization like the OTA
could be reinstalled to bring an impartial review of
these most critical issues, and accountability back
into legislating advancement of technology and
science as a silver-bullet solution to societal ills.
This would include 'the digital divide' and other
types of issues. Education, training, the media.
The facts regarding the OTA are limited by the
brief encounter with its role in .US government
policy and yet if there is an overriding theme in
today's mix of events it is that there is a faith in
science and technology that, at a certain point,
if uncritical, can backfire, as with 'digital politics'
when things are only considered black and white.
Otherwise, what exists is a shell game in which
any facts can be adapted to suit an agenda, if an
organization outside of this, serving the public, is
disbanded as it was and has been, to great harm
for all because it relies on faith and rhetoric to do
what only reason and public review can deliver.
That is one view at least. And, again, the facts
are likely more complex in details, though in a
general sense it is proposed a large part of the
problem today relates to the disbanding of the
Office of Technology Assessment in the .US as
it regulated optimism and idealism with reality.
The OTA Legacy
the electromagnetic internetwork-list
electromagnetism / infrastructure / civilization