Automation, technology and choices
Letter to the editor, Irish Times.
You highlight the threat to jobs in Irish towns in your coverage of the UCC report on automation technologies (News, February 22nd). Whether this anxiety is justified or overstated, as later news reports suggested, the authors present automation as an inevitable force of nature. It is not.
Innovation in any technology, automation or otherwise, results from very human choices. Choices made in companies and colleges about what technologies are researched and how they are designed. Choices by state and EU agencies about how research and development is supported – often with public finances. Choices about how fast technologies are rolled out, and to whom. And choices about who benefits from new technologies, and most importantly, who decides.
Cultivating human creativity is a vital strategy against the costs of automation, say the report’s authors. But creativity must be supported by widening participation in the above decisions. Giving people in Galway, Gort and Greystones alike a say in ongoing decisions about technology’s place in Irish society – decisions that impact all of us – is not only democratic, it’s the best way of ensuring we will all flourish with technology, not struggle against it.
Dr CIAN O’DONOVAN,
Department of Science and Technology Studies,
University College London.