Book - Oxford University Press

Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies

| July 2016

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.

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Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies

Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies
For more information on this publication: Please contact Science, Technology, and Globalization
For Academic Citation: Juma, Calestous. Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, July 2016.