This page was last updated on Thursday 21 April 2016
This part of the website contains works concerned with the interaction between engineering (e), technology (t), and society (s), with different emphasis on the three in each item. This is expressed by assigning a three-dimensional vector, (e,t,s). to each item, with e+t+s=1. One might also think of this as locating each item within a unilateral triange with apexes e, t, and s.
The items are arranged into two groups: The first contains papers and notes, some of which have been published elsewhere. The second group contains a number of monographs; works that are too long to be published in journals.
Overlaid on the discussion in each item is a philosophical aspect. In some cases this is simply a reference to relevant publications; in other cases a methodology or line of inquiry used in philosophy is employed. However, in all of the work presented here, there is no intention of contributing to philosophy (I am not a philosopher by education or practice); the intention is to contribute to an interdisciplinary discourse. Unfortunately, only one forum where the different disciplines are accepted on a more or less equal footing is currently known to me, and that is fPET, the forum on Philosophy, Engineering, & Technology, sponsored by the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (www.ieeessit.org ), the International Network for Engineering Studies (www.inesweb.org ), and the Society for Philosophy and Technology (www.spt.org ).
A Story of Us - Evolution and the Individual (2015).
(0.1, 0.2, 0.7). The purpose of this monograph is to present a story about the evolution of society and thereby to arrive at a view of our present society and the role of the individual as an element of this society. The story is primarily concerned with how technology has shaped the evolution of society, from the first stone tool to the internal combustion engine and information technology, and correspondingly, the view of our present, global society is one dominated by technology and how we relate to it. - The monograph is structured into three sections, each with a particular theme. The first is focused on evolution in general; as a process that produced entities of increasing complexity, both of form and in their interaction with their environments. The second section is focused on society as a complex system and on the roles of technology and industry as components of society. The third section considers the individual as the basic building block of society and the driving force behind the evolution of society. Again, it is the role of technology as the means of expressing this driving force that is the focus of the story and, in particular, the realisation that the current and future applications of technology are the result of our decisions. The future will be what we make it, and the conclusion of the story is that the control of the development and application of technology as part of the democratic process will play an essential role in shaping that future.
Technology and the Stability of Society (2015). (0, 0.4, 0.6).
In this paper we develop a view (in the sense of systems engineering) of this system that is derived from a consideration of the evolution of the system over the last 10,000 years or so. Central to this view is the assertion that the driving force behind this evolution is the intelligence of the individual, and this assertion is justified on very general grounds. A simple model of intelligence leads to the identification of knowledge as the entity characterising this view, just as components and functions characterise well-known views in system engineering. In this view, a category of fluctuations in the evolution of society can be related to fluctuations in knowledge resulting from manipulations of information, and three simple models are developed in order to investigate some of the main characteristics of these fluctuations. The significant role of technology and its applications is discussed, leading to a concern about the risks associated with the future evolution of society.
Engineering - a social activity. (2016) (0.5, 0.1, 0.4) The activity of engineering is not only a technical activity; it also has many social aspects, both in how it is performed as well as in the effects of its products. This monograph discusses these aspects in a structured manner, starting with a common language as a bridge between engineering and society, and ending with an introduction to Arendt's concept of political activity.