How Society Shapes Technology
We have long recognized technology as a driving force behind much historical and cultural change. Now, in Beyond Engineering, science writer Robert Pool turns the question around to examine how society shapes technology. Drawing on such disparate fields as history, economics, risk analysis, management science, sociology, and psychology, Pool illuminates the complex, often fascinating interplay between machines and society, in a book that will revolutionize how we think about technology.
We tend to think that reason guides technological development, that engineering expertise alone determines the final form an invention takes. But if you look closely enough at the history of any invention, says Pool, you will find that factors unrelated to engineering seem to have an almost equal impact. In his wide-ranging volume, he traces developments in nuclear energy, automobiles, light bulbs, commercial electricity, and personal computers, to reveal that the ultimate shape of a technology often has as much to do with happenstance, business acumen, and cultural context. Whether discussing bovine growth hormone, nuclear power plants, or baboon-to-human transplants, Beyond Engineering is an engaging look at modern technology and an illuminating account of how technology and the modern world shape each other.