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This module will help you explore the broader social and technical impacts of business systems, services, and products. It has been developed to compliment another module, "Social and Technical Systems for Professional Decision-Making, m14025. It presents three lenses under which to view social and technical impacts: Technological Determinism, Social Construction, and Technological Politics. These lenses come from Robert Heilbroner, Trevor Pinch and Wiebe Bijker, and Langdon Winner. It provides exercises that can be used to complement the readings provided in Technology and Society edited by Deborah Johnson and Jameson Wetmore. This "Technological Choice" module is part of the EAC Toolkit, a project developed under National Science Foundation grant SES 0551779.

Test cases

  • Your company, Cogentrix, proposes a cogeneration plant that uses coal to produce electricity and steam both of which it sells to make money. Because western Puerto Rico lacks electricity generating capacity and because the steam by-product can be sold to nearby tuna canning plants, your company finds the Mayagüez area particularly attractive. But there are rumors that different local constituencies oppose this project because of concerns about the environmental impact of coal use and industrialization. Prepare a STS analysis of the Mayagüez area. Can you identify any potential value mismatches between this system and the cogeneration plant your company is planning? How can these mismatches be mitigated or eliminated?
  • Your company, Southern Gold Resources, wants to mine different regions in central Puerto Rico for copper and gold. But you know that twenty years earlier, two proposals by two international mining companies were turned down by the Puerto Rican government due to strong local opposition. Carry out a socio-technical system that concentrates on the financial, social, and environmental impact of a smaller scale mining project. How would you address the opposition to the older mining proposals should they also arise in relation to yours? What does your STS analysis tell you about social and ethical impacts, financial potential, and possible grass roots opposition? Are profitable mining operations compatible with the community and environmental values? What is your recommendation based on your STS analysis?
  • Windmar, a company that manufactures and operates windmills for electricity generation has proposed to build a windmill farm adjacent to the Bosque Seco de Guanica. They have encountered considerable local opposition which stems from three concerns: (1) Given that Windmar is a private business, can it be trusted to carry out its project as proposed? Can any private business be trusted to “keep its word.” (2) Will locating the windmill farm so close to the Bosque Seco de Guanica have a harmful impact on the fragile ecosystem and its non-human inhabitants? (3) Why were public hearings on the project held so far away from the very communities who would most likely suffer its impacts? Windmill technology has traditionally been considered one of the cleanest ways to generate electricity. But this doesn’t mean that it represents a harm-free technology. How can windmills harm the environment? How can their construction and operation harm the communities in which they are housed? Carry out a socio-technical system analysis to understand and clarify this opposition. Can the concerns of local stakeholders be integrated with a profitable, privately owned and operated windmill farm? How should the windmill project be modified to improve the chances of its being implemented?
  • Assume that the Puerto Rico government has decided to give a laptop computer to every public school student. What would happen? What would be the benefits? What would be the harms? Construct a socio-technical analysis of the Puerto Rico public school system and study the impact of the laptop project on this system. Are there any mismatches between the values embedded in laptops technology and this STS? Would the laptop project be feasible? (What constraints are likely to make integration difficult?) Would it be necessary to redesign laptop computers to make this technology more responsive to the special needs of children? What changes or adjustments would need to be made in the Puerto Rico public school STS?

Questions & Answers

what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
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Source:  OpenStax, Civis project - uprm. OpenStax CNX. Nov 20, 2013 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11359/1.4
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