Technology Causing Disasters– Of course
In a fascinating article in the Economist, technology is compared to a sea urchin with “long spines of ability [radiating] out towards specific needs…” However, because these spines grow unevenly and there is little between them, technological catastrophes are inevitable. Therefore, they suggest that it is important for companies that develop and use new technologies to accept and acknowledge that things will go wrong. The firms also need to develop technologies that can remediate potential damage should it occur. Finally, there should be sensors in place that can detect when systems fail in some way.
These measures make sense, but are they likely to be implemented on a wide scale? After all, industrialists may not welcome costly regulations that assume they may not be completely in control or may even make mistakes. But, to acknowledge the fact that, when we are working at the forefront of our knowledge base, mistakes and even disasters are inevitable is a part of integrity in science. And that will benefit us all.