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A book talk with Calestous Juma, MLK Visiting Professor and Scholars Program

Professor of the Practice of International Development
Director, Science, Technology, Globalization
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government

Book, Oxford University Press  July 2016

Author: Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development; Director, Science, Technology, and Globalization Project; Principal Investigator, Agricultural Innovation in Africa

Ordering Information for this publication

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Science, Technology, and Globalization; Science, Technology, and Public Policy

Innovation and Its Enemies:

  • Explains the roots of resistance to new technologies – and why such resistance is not always futile
  • Draws on nearly 600 years of economic history to show how the balance of winners and losers shapes technological controversies
  • Outlines policy strategies for inclusive innovation to reduce the risks and maximize the benefits of new technologies

The rise of artificial intelligence has rekindled a long-standing debate on the impact of technology on employment. This is just one of many areas where exponential advances in technology signal both hope and fear, leading to public controversy. This book shows that many debates over new technologies are framed in the context of risks to moral values, human health, and environmental safety. But it argues that behind these legitimate concerns often lie deeper, but unacknowledged, socioeconomic considerations. Technological tensions are often heightened by perceptions that the benefits of new technologies will accrue only to small sections of society while the risks will be more widely distributed. Similarly, innovations that threaten to alter cultural identities tend to generate intense social concern. As such, societies that exhibit great economic and political inequities are likely to experience heightened technological controversies.

Drawing from nearly 600 years of technology history, Innovation and Its Enemies identifies the tension between the need for innovation and the pressure to maintain continuity, social order, and stability as one of today’s biggest policy challenges. It reveals the extent to which modern technological controversies grow out of distrust in public and private institutions. Using detailed case studies of coffee, the printing press, margarine, farm mechanization, electricity, mechanical refrigeration, recorded music, transgenic crops, and transgenic animals, it shows how new technologies emerge, take root, and create new institutional ecologies that favor their establishment in the marketplace. The book uses these lessons from history to contextualize contemporary debates surrounding technologies such as artificial intelligence, online learning, 3D printing, gene editing, robotics, drones, and renewable energy. It ultimately makes the case for shifting greater responsibility to public leaders to work with scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to manage technological change, make associated institutional adjustments, and expand public engagement on scientific and technological matters.

Innovation and Its Enemies was launched on July 6, 2016, at the 16th International Joseph Schumpeter Society conference in Montreal, Canada. It can be ordered here through Oxford University Press.

Table of Contents:

Acknowledgements

Introduction

1. Gales of Creative Destruction
2. Brewing Trouble: Coffee
3. Stop the Presses: Printing the Koran
4. Smear Campaigns: Margarine
5. Gaining Traction: Farm Mechanization
6. Charged Arguments: Electricity
7. Cool Reception: Mechanical Refrigeration
8. Facing the Music: Recorded Sound
9. Taking Root: Transgenic Crops
10. Swimming against the Current: AquAdvantage Salmon
11. Oiling the Wheels of Novelty

Events are open to all community members. We welcome people of every identity, ability/disability, and background, and will strive to meet all needs for full participation.