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About this book

Technology has made human lives incomparably better. Civilization as we know it would utterly collapse without it. However, if not properly managed, technology can and will be systematically abused and misuse and thereby become one of the biggest threats to humankind. This open access book applies proactive crisis management to the management of technology organizations to make them more sustainable and socially responsible for the betterment of humankind. It forecasts the unintended consequences of technology and offers methods to counteract it.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Open Access

Chapter 1. Threats of Imaginable and Unimaginable Proportions

Abstract
Anthony Levandndoski, a former Google engineer, “…founded a church called, the Way of the Future, that was devoted to ‘the realization, acceptance, and worship of a God-head based on Artificial Intelligence [AI]’. ‘Machines would eventually become more powerful than humans, he proclaimed, and the members of his church would prepare themselves, intellectually and spiritually, for that momentous transition…’ I don’t believe in God, ‘he [said]’. ‘But I do believe that we are creating something that basically, as far as we’re concerned, will be like God to us.’”
Ian I. Mitroff, Rune Storesund

Open Access

Chapter 2. Beyond the Hype: Toward a Theory of the Unthinkable, Part I

Abstract
With this chapter, we begin the development of a Theory of the Unthinkable. The starting point is the recognition that technology—more accurately, technologists—generally promises more than it can possibly deliver. Indeed, unbridled promises and unbounded enthusiasm are part and parcel of the basic makeup of the inventors of all goods and services.
Ian I. Mitroff, Rune Storesund

Open Access

Chapter 3. Pluses and Minuses

Abstract
The ability to foresee as many of the potential dangers as possible lurking within a technology is one of the key factors in Thinking the Unthinkable. As we’ve stressed, one of the best ways of accomplishing this is by listing as many of the supposed benefits of a technology as one can and then considering as many ways as possible how the exact opposite can and will occur. In other words, what are all the ways in which technology proposes to make our lives better, and then, how can it systematically fail to do so?
Ian I. Mitroff, Rune Storesund

Open Access

Chapter 4. Context: Technological Messes

Abstract
The contexts in which technology exists and functions are vastly more complex than what’s typically assumed. The problems of society do not consist of bounded, well-structured exercises. All technologies operate in complex settings. As a consequence, the problems of society are not like the majority of simple exercises that constitute the backbone far too many classes in the Engineering and Physical Sciences, not to mention K-12 education in general.
Ian I. Mitroff, Rune Storesund

Open Access

Chapter 5. Coping with Tech

Abstract
All of the rules and regulations per se will not protect us from the false promises and excesses of technology, let alone their negative and unintended consequences. What’s needed is a carefully orchestrated, ongoing process that will continuously examine all of the elements, and especially their interactions, that are not only key to Thinking the Unthinkable, but even more, to coping with it. This chapter provides the broad outlines of such a process.
Ian I. Mitroff, Rune Storesund

Open Access

Chapter 6. The Socially Responsible Tech Company

Abstract
Proactive Crisis Management (CM) is the backbone of the Socially Responsible Tech Company, SRTC. From its very inception and across its entire lifespan, Proactive CM needs to guide its every action, indeed it’s its Raison d’Etre. A SRTC would therefore be constantly on the lookout for the unintended consequences of its technologies, how they can be abused and misused, and how they can be minimized if not prevented altogether. The primary emphasis is on constantly monitoring for harmful effects and ill consequences.
Ian I. Mitroff, Rune Storesund

Open Access

Chapter 7. The Moral Underpinnings of Technology

Abstract
As we’ve stressed throughout, Ethics is one of the prime features of Wicked Messes. Indeed, it’s one of the most critical elements of Pragmatist Inquiry Systems. It certainly is one of the most important components of all crises, indeed of everything that humans do. As such, it plays a major role in Thinking the Unthinkable. For this reason alone, we need to address the Ethical and Moral underpinnings of technology.
Ian I. Mitroff, Rune Storesund

Backmatter

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