Sustainable Technologies: Paradigms and Practices
If I was a determinist I would want to know that which often forbids us to talk about what we cannot know.
>Jordan Parker Williams
Society, Nature and Technology
Position Paper II
16 November 2006
Are we a product of technology or is technology a product of humans? The very question itself is based on a false dichotomy. It is based on a false paradigm or “map of human nature”, that of determinism. We are a product of neither nature nor nurture; we are a product of choice, because there is always a space between stimulus and response, as we exercise our power to choose based on principles not reactions, the space will become larger.[i] The idea of determinism is deeply embedded into present day culture and has reinforced a culture of victimization because of the terrifying sense that if I do have choice, then I am also responsible for my present situation. If a person can say I am what I am and I am where I am because I so choose to be there, then that person can realize a statement of: I choose other wise. This is an important realization of the human condition, admittedly far too often technologies are marketed with knee jerk responses to their usefulness and seem all too agreeable; but—being human allows us to choose, even in the most overwhelming politically set trajectories, we have the power to choose.
Commonly in socio-technological studies there are two categories: 1) “technological voluntarist” advocating that social systems shape technologies and humans have a choice, voice, and control over and in technologies and their trajectories and 2) “technological determinist” who believe technology has a set path and inevitable evolution, producing artifacts along the way.
In this position paper I will look at technology through a voluntarist lens to see how sustainable paradigms and practices can evolve and how “reflexive modernization” is best to allow us to evolve to a sustainable future in which our choices in everyday decisions matter.[ii]