Langdon Winner - "Artifacts/Ideas & Political Culture"

What Ought to Be the Central Question in Our Thinking About Technology

"What kind of world are we building here?" (109)

What we typically fail to see:

Political ideas "present themselves in material objects ... they might be called artifacts/ideas." (111)
E.g., 'el cortito'
"even the length of the handle of a hoe expresses a regime ... of power, authority and control." (111)
What else?
Some Problems With Technology As It Is Presently Developed
1. elimination of community life (112)

2. limiting of privacy (112)

3. energy systems that depend on "sources of fuel over which ... [we] exercise no control" (112)

4. manufacturing systems that "seek control by eliminating ... human initiative" (112)

5. "communications technologies employed in attempts to control people's thought, desires and behaviors" (112)

The Solution:
"The appropriate moment to examine and debate conditions such as these is the time during which they are designed and first introduced into the fabric of human activity."

Three Guiding Maxims:

1. "No innovation without representation." (112)
"...let us see to it that all the relevant parties are included rather than kept in the dark..." (112)
2. "No engineering without political deliberation." (113)
Engineers "whose wonderful creativity is often accompanied by an appalling narrow-mindedness" ought to be educated in order "to prepare them to evaluate the kinds of political contexts, political ideas, political arguments, and political consequences involved in their work." (113)
3. "No means without ends." (113)
"As we study the prospects offered by new technologies, it is essential to ask: Why?  Why are we doing this?" (113)
[Philosophy 2801]