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Technology and Social Justice

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Technology and Social Justice

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  • April 2013
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In "Technology and Social Justice" (pp. 132-141) Freeman Dyson expresses a deep optimism about humans' ability to use technological innovation to increase social justice. Exactly how does Dyson answer pessimistic doubts that technological innovations frequently serve to increase social oppression and inequality? What is your assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of Dyson's response to that pessimistic perspective? Freeman Dyson answers the pessimistic doubts that technological innovations serve to increase social oppression and inequality by discussing the difference in technology between the rich and the poor. He explains how technology is a contributing factor in creating social injustice and endorses his deduction. He explains this through a combination of history, personal stories, and technological and ethical creativity. Dyson addresses his pessimistic doubts with examples from history. He starts by explaining that the technology of printing led to the Protestant Reformation because it gave them the ability to spread the word through print. With this invention, people throughout Europe were able to have books and educate themselves as well as their fellow man. The biggest part of the technology of printing was being able to mass produce the Bible. The first two to think of it in the respect of justice were Luther and Shakespeare and the printed book allowed for ordinary citizens to finally acquire books. The practicality of technology led the way for social justice during the next two centuries. Public services such as clean water, sewage treatment, antibiotics and vaccines helped to bring the gap between rich and poor closer. Dyson also makes mention of how synthetic materials have introduced fake furs, brilliant colors and silk. So where does the social oppression exactly begin? With each new technology, there comes a greater distance between the rich and the poor. For example, at the onset of a new device, we have a tendency to hold on to it in...

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