Technological nightmares: Frederick S. Pardee distinguished lecture, October 2003
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Paul Streeten, 2003–2004 Pardee Visiting Professor of Future Studies at the Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, discusses the topic of technological progress—namely, the negative consequences often attributed to such progress. Advancements in technology are unfairly tied to things like pollution and environmental degradation, he says, and for decades, doomsayers have wrongly predicted that the world is coming to an end. Streeten insists that economic progress doesn’t have to have negative results. For starters, it’s important to remember that there are benefits to technological advancements, he says, such as the production of new goods, prolonged life, better health, and more. These advancements improve society. There are also other ways to accomplish economic growth, Streenten says. Our society can opt to produce different kinds of goods, such as hydrogen-fueled cars that don’t pollute the air. Or, quality of goods aside, perhaps we can promote faster production of goods to compensate for negative production effects. Streeten offers several growth options, discussing the merit and practicality of each.
A version of this essay was delivered in October 2003 as the Frederick S. Pardee Distinguished Lecture at Boston University.