Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought

Paperback | August 15, 1978

byLangdon Winner

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The truth of the matter is that our deficiency does not lie in the want of well-verified "facts." What we lack is our bearings. The contemporary experience of things technological has repeatedly confounded our vision, our expectations, and our capacity to make intelligent judgments. Categories, arguments, conclusions, and choices that would have been entirely obvious in earlier times are obvious no longer. Patterns of perceptive thinking that were entirely reliable in the past now lead us systematically astray. Many of our standard conceptions of technology reveal a disorientation that borders on dissociation from reality. And as long as we lack the ability to make our situation intelligible, all of the "data" in the world will make no difference. ;From the Introduction

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The truth of the matter is that our deficiency does not lie in the want of well-verified "facts." What we lack is our bearings. The contemporary experience of things technological has repeatedly confounded our vision, our expectations, and our capacity to make intelligent judgments. Categories, arguments, conclusions, and choices that ...

Langdon Winner is the Thomas Phelan Chair of Humanities and Social Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

other books by Langdon Winner

The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology
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Format:PaperbackDimensions:396 pages, 7.9 × 5.2 × 0.9 inPublished:August 15, 1978Publisher:The MIT Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0262730499

ISBN - 13:9780262730495

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"This study of the idea of technology out of control makes an important contribution to our understanding of the problems of civilization. The basic argument is not that some persons or groups promote technology against the public interest (true though that is), or even that our technology develops in its own way in spite of all our efforts to control it (also true in some respects). Rather, Winner is concerned with a more subtle effect: the artifacts that we have invented to satisfy our material wants have now developed, in size and complexity, to the point of delimiting or even determining our conception of the wants themselves. In that way, we as a civilization are losing mastery over our own tools.... "As a source for readings and reflections on this problem, the book is rich and rewarding.... If it has a practical lesson, it is that of awareness: only by recognizing the boundaries of our socially constructed scientific-technological reality can we transcend them in imagination and then achieve effective human action." Jerome R. Ravetz Science