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close this bookThe Impact of Technology on Human Rights: Global Case-studies (UNU, 1993, 322 pages)
close this folder1. Technological impacts on human rights: Models of development, science and technology, and human rights
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe definition of the concept of technology
View the documentThe origins of the western technological culture
View the documentEnlightenment, the open industrial society, and human rights
View the documentThe enlightenment model of industrial development
View the documentA critical analysis of the enlightenment model of industrial development (technological imperialism)
View the documentModels of development and the technological factor
View the documentDevelopment, choice, and human rights
View the documentThe ''deconstruction'' of deterministic models of development
View the documentNotes
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The ''deconstruction'' of deterministic models of development

We have pointed out that it is necessary to "deconstruct" the deterministic models of development that we discussed earlier. All of these models imply that technology and industrial changes have an impact on social life and on the implementation of human rights. In terms of figure 1, downstream activities can have only weak effects on upstream activities. This limits the debate on technology and human rights to:

(1) questions related to the protection of individuals and groups against the impact of industrialism; and

(2) assumptions concerning the positive contribution of industrial development as such to individual freedom by breaking traditional bonds.

This "deconstruction," as a necessary method for breaking through these limitations, is achieved by a theoretical analysis of models of development. Clearly this is not enough, because the Enlightenment model of development and related models are, as we have shown, very resistant to theoretical attacks because of their ideological nature. A good strategy to attack the "impact model" is systematically to analyse all the links between the variables of the model (see figure 1), to use research results showing the degrees of variability, especially of upstream factors, and to engage in this type of research where data are lacking. The weakening of the "impact model" opens the road to another type of debate on human rights and technology, for example, on human rights as normative standards to be used when questions relating to choice arise.

However, it is important to note that the road between deterministic models and voluntaristic approaches is a narrow one. When we take this narrow road we have the obligation to engage in systematic, thorough analysis of the nature of the social, cultural, and technological constraints that will be encountered in specific situations, to indicate as exactly as possible opportunities for choice and the ways in which these can be used.

A promising direction for achieving this end has been outlined by Boudon, whose model seems to fit our task. It is suitable because it concentrates on the rational decisions of actors within systems of interdependencies. At the same time it extends the concept of rationality, permitting an interpretation of situations by the actors by deconstructing the concept of structure that plays such a prominent role in the deterministic models and by giving due consideration to the role of chance in processes of development.56 There will certainly be other roads leading to a solution of these problems, some of which may prove to be successful within specific cultural and social contexts.

A major element in the course of action we have outlined in the preceding sections will be education. In the first place, education has to enlighten people with respect to consequences of the use of "deterministic" models of development. In the second place, education has to show the links between policies based on these models and human rights. This analysis of the relationship between those types of policies and their impact on human rights has to be part of both general advanced studies and professional training in "upstream" and "downstream" areas. This task cannot be left to the "upstream" interest groups, because they are too strongly embedded in the Enlightenment model of development.

Confronted with this problem, Nakayama suggests the development of a service science. As we cannot expect much from academic science as a counter-balance to the menace of incorporated industrial and defence science, we must inevitably turn to another kind of enlightenment, he remarks, namely that of service science. He suggests that the structure of this science could be rather simple, as it would involve exposing problems, solving problems, and, finally, assessment by the people. He connects this idea to the Rights of the Ignorant. Access to scientific information should, in principle, be fully guaranteed. But this right should go together with the human right not to know specific scientific facts but still not be at a disadvantage because of such ignorance.57

Finally. there are some strong arguments for changing organizations in such a way that jobs are enriched with more elements of a "learning to learn" strategy that may contribute to an improved use of "human capital" and to an increased respect for human dignity (see pp. 25-27). The next generations must be trained in these domains in such a way that they will be in a better position than we are to understand the problems of development and choice. They must be able to organize research in these domains, not only restricted to sub-themes but also oriented towards a better understanding of global interdependencies. Such interdependencies result from the evolution of a new technological system, the characteristic features of which arc, in comparison with all previous technological systems, "a much greater complexity of conception, closer linkages with scientific institutions, greater capital intensity, more diversified location of production, greater in application and uses, more rapid achievement of global development and world markets.'' 58