Saturday, August 15, 2009

Science, Technology and Well-Being

A cross-over between many of the debates we have been having is the extent to which science technology will improve well-being. This issue is addressed by John Holdren in his address to the American Association for the Advancement of Science last year, printed in Science magazine. The Irish debate often veers into trying to threaten people to take up science subjects on fear of becoming obsolete. Motivation by fear may or may not be effective, but it has created some unsettling images in the minds of many in the general public. The view that scientific progress will be manipulated by an elite to benefit themselves aided by large-scale government subsidies and redirection of public educational resources is something that has lodged in the minds of many people who comment on various blog forums in Ireland. Going back to the previous discussion, understanding public trust in science and technology institutions may be more important than we think. Part of this process will need to involve a continuous debate about who pays for science and technology and who benefits.

The Holdren article below outlines the tasks that science will address over the next number of years and the importance of the scientific effort. This article gives a refreshing global sweep of the importance of the scientific effort. Much of the discussion is at a very broad level and it is directly intended as advocacy for promotion of science so the usual disclaimer about focusing on the specifics applies. Having said that, it is interesting to think about science and technology in the broad levels set down here, particularly as it pertains to the issues of human well-being. Some of the recommendations (but please read the article as a summary is always wrong in a sense) include the following.

- greater awareness of economic, socio-political and environmental conditions and processes in terms of the link between scientific inquiry and human well-being

- greater focus by scientists on the major threats affecting human well-being

- greater attention on promoting S+T literacy

- better undergrad training

link here

1 comment:

Martin Ryan said...

Interesting article Liam. Thanks for the link.