Critical Engineering Manifesto

I found #5 salient too, but to avoid a pile-on, I’ll look at #2:

2. The Critical Engineer raises awareness that with each technological advance our techno-political literacy is challenged.

In my words: “Digital divide.” Or, “The critical engineer realizes that if you make a new technology, and it’s successful, eventually people will be expected to be literate in it.”

Uber/Lyft/Sidecar offer a timely example: maybe Uber takes over and puts taxis out of business. This sounds good if you have (or want to have) a smartphone. If not, or if you don’t know how to use it, then suddenly taxi services aren’t available for you. Or actually, the existence of the car itself is a good example: we built cities for cars, which really disenfranchises you in a lot of ways if you can’t afford, or can’t drive, a car. (literacy and affordability tend to go hand in hand)

What do we do with this? The best answer I can come up with is “be aware of it”, although maybe another answer is: “stop making so much consumer technology.” Not that everyone should stop, but some people, anyway. We might have a bit too much of it right now.


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