Table of Contents
Performing research for technology assessment is a comprehensive process that requires an adequate understanding of the technology in question. Such is a complex undertaking characterized by challenges and questions. Some of the key challenges include scarcity of information, especially among latest innovations. Innovators will always strive to keep their invention secretive. Maintaining high levels of secrecy helps them maximize the profit from their innovation. Similarly, it enables them to hide some of the adverse effects of the products and technology. Locating important information of about the technology raises pertinent questions which cover the functionality, benefits and adverse effects of the technology. The process of understanding and answering the questions becomes difficult because of the scarcity of information and the high secrecy maintained by manufacturers among stakeholders.
The solution to the problem is dedicating adequate time to study and understand the technology (Baker & O’Neil, 1994). Studying a technology requires one to dissect the critical components of the product to identify its key raw materials, the interconnections and features that ensure its functionality. After studying and understanding the product, it becomes easy to address the aspects of each raw material and component. After studying the product and technology, one must find adequate information from reliable sources like scholars and innovators. Libraries have books that discuss various aspects of technology and may improve technological literacy. The internet is also another rich source but requires caution to ensure that one identifies appropriate and reliable sources. Similarly, one must engage critical stakeholders. Interviewing designers, manufacturers and even users of the technology can help generate insight about the product thus improving the understanding of the technical aspects of the products and both the social and environmental effects of the technology.
We can do it today.
Difficulty in predicting use and effects
Modern agricultural technology promised to improve food security. The rising human population increased demand for food thus requiring a technology that would provide large quantities of food in a safe environment. As such, mechanization, and corporatization of agriculture. The technology included the use of large equipment powered by fossil fuels and the expansive use of both fertilizers and pesticides among others. The immediate effects of the technology were desirable (Ongley, 2005). Food production became efficient characterized with timely production and subsequent processing of food products. The technology also created millions of jobs across the world as agriculture became lucrative. Urbanization thrived, and the economy soon diversified. However, the technology would later reveal numerous adverse environmental and social effects.
The main adverse effect of the mechanization of agriculture is the fact that it increased emission in the production of basic foods. Basic foods like corn flour, potatoes crisps and milk have large carbon footprints that begin with the tiling of land, spraying of pesticides and harvesting. The modern agriculture uses heavy equipment that runs on diesel to perform the functions. The tractors emit massive amounts of carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming. The large-scale use of pesticides also leads to large-scale land degradation and pollution of water sources. The pesticides end up on the surface of the earth and flow together with the dead insects towards water sources like rivers and lake thereby compounding the effects of modern-day agriculture. The killing of insects destroys the natural food webs thereby starving other animals. The large-scale production of food has led to the extinction of various insects and birds that rely on insects killed by pesticides and herbicides used by farmers.
Every technology has its set of stakeholders. The key stakeholders in any technological invention include investors, decision makers, users, and operators. Each of the categories of stakeholders has unique needs that technology should always address. Investors, for example, are critical stakeholders who provide funding for the study of technology and the subsequent mass production of the products. Investors always have financial or social interests in the development of technology. As such, the innovation must promise to meet the interests. Some investors may demand profits while others may demand that technology meets various environmental or social targets. As such, the designers and manufacturers of the products must model the products to achieving the interests of the investors (Federici & Scherer, 2012). The decision makers make the technical and strategic decisions about technology. They consider the complex aspects of the technology and strive to develop unique products that are profitable. Key to their concern is the environmental and social impacts of the products. They strive to lower any adverse effects of the product while maximizing its benefits to the end users.
Operators constitute another critical category of stakeholders whose role ensures the successful operation of a product throughout its lifespan. The main needs of the operators in the technical skills to enable them to operate the products. As such, training and education are at the core of their concerns as they strive to understand the technology. Subsequent improvements of products will require sustained retraining of the operators to enable them to understand the technology. Users constitute the largest category of stakeholders. They are the consumers of the product and therefore have specific concerns. Their concerns include the price of the product, safety, and the environmental effects of the products.
Solar power technology is a modern technology that uses photovoltaics to convert the energy from the sun into electricity (Bailey, 2014). The sun is a naturally existing source of energy that promises to address the energy concerns of the contemporary society. The solar power technology offers a clean and sustainable source of energy that will eradicate the adverse effects of the years of reliance on fossil fuels. The scope of the study will include the technical aspects of the technology, its benefits, disadvantages and both the intended and unintended impacts.
- Bailey, S. (2014). Solar power: Technologies, environmental impacts and future prospects. New York : Nova Science Publisher.
- Baker, E. & O’Neil, H. (1994). Technology Assessment in Education and Training, Volume 1. New York: Psychology press.
- Ongley, E. D., & Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2005). Control of water pollution from agriculture. Delhi: Published by arrangement with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationa by Daya Publ. House.
- Federici, S. & Scherer, M. (2012). Assistive Technology Assessment Handbook. New York: CRC Press.