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Andrew Shreve: Biomaterials Science: technology development and education — The Eudemonic Project
The SFI-sponsored workshop addressing the Growing Gap Between Physical and Societal Technologies considered the development of physical technologies in Biotechnology, Information sciences, Nanotechnology and Cognitive sciences. These brief notes present some relevant topics that arise from consideration of the Biotechnology and Nanotechnology areas in particular, with some extension to more traditional disciplines of Biology and Materials Science. Three topics are presented: (1) Selected examples of actual technologies are briefly discussed, with the aim of showing how Bio-Nano areas are increasingly intertwined and that new technology development often occurs in a multi-disciplinary context, (2) Broader themes related to technology development over the past decades in both Materials Science and Biosciences are summarized, and (3) A need for different educational approaches in a time of rapidly evolving and broadly interdisciplinary physical and societal technologies is presented.
Molly Crockett: How Social Media Amplifies Moral Outrage — The Eudemonic Project
Dr. Crockett believes that the online sphere could be fuelling the fire of moral outrage in at least two ways. First, it’s increasing the frequency with which we are exposed to moral outrage. People report learning about immoral acts more frequently from online media than other media forms such as print, television and radio (Crockett, 2017). As people devote more and more time and attention to online material, moral outrage is increasingly becoming part of their day-to-day experience. Second, it’s increasing the spread of moral outrage. Nothing goes viral like morally outrageous content. Research has shown that anger is the most predictive factor in determining what makes content spread (Berger & Milkman, 2012). Moreover, in a study looking at tweets on gun control, same sex marriage and climate change every moral-emotional word in a tweet increased its likelihood of being shared by 20% (Brady et al. 2017). Given the tendency of morally outrageous content to make such effective click-bait, the promotion of moral outrage could be a particularly lucrative strategy for advertising companies and online platforms that earn revenue from capturing attention.
Klaus Lackner: Negative emissions: Cleaning up climate change — The Eudemonic Project
Carbon dioxide emitted in the energy sector is the main driver of climate change.[i] This needs to stop.[ii] Energy efficiency and energy conservation will help, but modern societies rely on energy.[iii] Expensive energy would stymie progress in the developing world. Delayed or frustrated development would prevent countries from reaching the standard of living necessary for halting rapid population growth, which presents an even more serious challenge to sustainability than climate change. Lack of energy will make it more difficult to provide food, water and mineral resources, and hinder environmental cleanup. Therefore, the discussion cannot be about stopping energy consumption but must be about cleaning up the energy sector.
Carl Frey: Worker-replacing and labour-augmenting technological change — The Eudemonic Project
Economic growth is in large part the result of labour-saving technologies that allow us to produce more with fewer workers. The wealth of nations can be seen as a steady flow of labour-saving inventions over the centuries. The share of the wealth being captured by labour, however, depends on the characteristics of those inventions. A helpful model has recently been put forward by Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo, conceptualizing technical progress as either enabling or labour displacing. The notion of machines being capable of taking over work from humans in some tasks is important, because it means that technology can reduce the labour demand, wages and employment, unless it is counterbalanced by other economic forces. Even though growing productivity still raises total income, offsetting the displacement effect in part, it may not fully counterbalance the negative effects of technological displacement. The creation of new tasks in which labour holds the comparative advantage, as Acemoglu and Restrepo point out, is essential raise the demand for labour and the labour share of income. How workers fare, in other words, depends on the race between task displacement and new task creation, and how easily workers can transition into emerging jobs.