Posts by Jameson Wetmore
When I ask my students whether it is okay for them or others to overstate the possible outcomes of their research in order to get funding, a large number of them say they are comfortable with it. They are taught by their mentors that this is a necessary, if sometimes unfortunate, marketing technique.
We know that nanotechnology can build a golf club that will extend your drive by a few feet, but will it help the poor in South Africa? The CNS Thematic Research Cluster on Equity, Equality, and Responsibility is conducting fieldwork in South Africa, interviewing scientists, researchers, policy officials, NGOs, corporations, funders, government employees, and local people to find out how nanotechnology is being researched, developed, and used and possibilities for the future of nanotechnology as a transformative technology the way cell phones seem to have become.
The internet looks different in different places. We think of it as this universal resource, but it’s not. Its ethereal contents change depending on where you are physically and politically. I’ve been experiencing this a lot on my last few international trips.
Today I saw something I hadn't seen yet – a construction crane that was moving. There are construction cranes everywhere in Dubai, but it didn't dawn on me until today that I hadn't seen one moving yet.
Over the past few months I have told a number of people that I’d be leading a study abroad program on sustainability in Dubai. Nearly everyone I spoke to responded, “You have to go to Masdar City.” Evidently every person I know had seen the New York Times’ front page article on Masdar City....a laboratory for developing sustainable technologies.
My job as a professor on this study abroad trip is to help students better understand how to build a sustainable world. I am afraid that I am struggling with this mission. Why you might ask?
Over the next week and a half or so the CSPO Soapbox will be filled with short blog postings from Dubai. Mary Jane Parmentier and I have brought a dozen ASU students to the United Arab Emirates for a study abroad program on Culture and Sustainability in Dubai.
It has been a few days since I returned from the IHEST meeting (see Blogging from France posts). Upon reflection, I realize that it was a number of firsts for me. It was the first time a foreign government invited me to speak. And it was the first time I was translated in real time during a talk. But the thing that stands out most in my mind is that it is the first time I’ve ever spoken to an audience largely comprised of government officials.
There is certainly a place for consensus conferences as they can play an important role in identifying potential social issues early in the development of a technology. But it is interesting to think of them as just one tool in a larger toolkit that can generate productive discussion for building a better future.
Part of me feels pretty dejected. I came all the way from Arizona, too! Why is Benny getting all the attention?
There was a fair amount of frustration in the air today. A number of talks stressed the idea that the public does not trust scientists the way it used to. The lament was that this turn away from science means that scientists lose some of their legitimacy and the useful advice given to policymakers does not receive the priority it deserves.
The trip from Arizona to the site of the IHEST Summer School required a cab from Scottsdale to PHX, a plane from PHX to Charlotte, another plane from Charlotte to Paris, Charles de Gaulle, a cab from CDG to the Lyon train station, a 2-hour TGV trip to Dijon, and an hour cab ride to Saline Royale, along the way crossing nine time zones in just under 23 hours of travel. Needless to say I’m experiencing a bit of jet lag.
On my drive to work this morning, a sports radio talk show host warned his presumably largely male fan base that Valentine’s Day was coming soon. Not to fear, he argued. If the holiday has caught you off guard, he claimed he still had the perfect gift that every woman would love. He summed up his advice in two words: “power down.”
We often forget that technologies are more than just a bundle of metal, gears and electronics. To provide us with any benefits, machines have to be woven into our practices and daily lives. There are few technologies that exemplify this better than the automobile.
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