A Legislative and Political History of OTA

The Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) was established in 1972 after a Congressional review of the four legislative support agencies that had traditionally provided science and technology (S&T) advice to Congress. The Technology Assessment Act of 1972 (P.L. 92–484) effectively moved S&T policy authority out of the nonpartisan scholarship of…

Has our obsession with true crime lowered our right to privacy expectations and raised our tolerance for authoritarian forms of rule?

La Boca

Have you ever noticed how many true crime and crime drama shows are produced by the BBC? My partner and I have a running joke about the Murderous British Isles, where homicide is so common that even the village vicars are tasked with solving a new one every week. Despite…

How Small Modular Reactors and Microgrid Systems Can Reboot Atomic Energy for 21st Energy Demands

The Problem with Nuclear

CCBY: Pixabay

The public enthusiasm for scientific and technological advancements that literally electrified America in the 20th century began to wane as the culture became disillusioned with its institutions, which could not close the growing gap between socioeconomic classes, political groups, religious affiliations, and along race and gender lines. The hazards of…

The Role of Citizens in Technical Decision-Making

CCBY: Pixabay

The Current Role of Citizens in Technical(ogical) Decision-Making

At a minimum, citizens have a duty to participate in the public debate over national S&T research and development priorities. Usually, this obligation is parlayed into voting and free speech rights. Certainly, the media and political groups urge individuals to take a personal interest and participate via social media in…

A Case Study

The Internet provides an ideal lens through which to explore the many ways in which a technology might embody forms of power and authority, and test the validity of STS theory on the subject.

The Politics of Technological Determinism: Authoritarian vs. Democratic

Lewis Mumford’s normative description of authoritarian and democratic technologies immediately falls short: the Net, although system-centered…

The Rise of Institutional Authority in the 20th Century

Courtesy: Designing Buildings Wiki

Overview of Institutions

America’s scientific institutions encompass the various modes of organization involved in scientific discourse and endeavor. Criteria for entry into this category may change with the times, as research priorities shifted from industrial to military to medical to environmental to digital, but the structure of norms, peers, and mandates are common…

Characteristics of an STS Approach

Dymaxion projection (CCBY: Chris Rywalt | POVRay)

The sophistication, diversity, and complexity of contemporary society means that we no longer have the luxury of debating policy decisions in terms of forces of light versus forces of darkness; we must now consider the balance of virtues that will affect all of our people and institutions. …


320 Million Institutions of Authority: Marginal Reflections on Science, Society, and Politics that Will Become Mainstream in Five Years

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