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column | The Netherlands should not be afraid of technology

In the spring of 1995, a discussion took place in De Bali on the occasion of the publication of Sixth part from standard work History of technology in the Netherlands. The emergence of a modern society 1800-1890. While the subtitle of the massive book, curated by Prof. Dr. Air HW Linzen, was upbeat, the advertisement sounded the alarm. “Is the Netherlands afraid of technology? The tough debate about technology culture in our delta,” de Pale said.

The speakers immediately put this into perspective, beginning with Ad Geelhoed, who died at a relatively young age, and then General Secretary for Economic Affairs, who received the first copy. The now yellowed fax that de Pale sent earlier with the summary of his speech states that the Netherlands is not afraid of technology. In the 17th century we were in the lead, although the pace has slowed since then. We must avoid fear, however, because our consensus culture is not necessarily an added advantage compared to the culture of East Asia or California. According to Gillhud, a knowledge-intensive society must be influenced from above, and we must “deal creatively with potential resistance from established norms and values”. Other speakers noted that resistance mainly occurs when technology changes one’s environment, such as the reinforcement of a dam. Fear is change, not technology. The report in the magazine science policy Reports say “Professor Fresco from Wageningen” refers to the rapid acceptance of computers and CDs, but people don’t want to know the process behind it. “Black Box Syndrome” may threaten “in a country where alpha and gamma rule”.

To be honest, I completely forgot about that meeting, but the question of whether the Netherlands is afraid of technology is still relevant. At the time, we had no idea that our lives would be dominated so quickly and drastically by technological change. However, the current picture of technology is not favorable. It is a paradox of our time that countries that were once called “backward” are now embracing science and technology more than others.

The current attitude towards engineers is contradictory at best. An engineer may build beautiful bridges, but he is also a person Technical fix Who forgets that people refuse to adapt or do not use things. Engineers are seen as masters of the universe who want to break free from nature by manipulating genes and sending humans to Mars. The majority of young people who have a science package in their final exams do not continue to study science technology, and even fewer become engineers.

This is worrying, because the questions we face today, and which should lay the foundation for our future prosperity, all have a technological aspect. Modern communications, commerce, healthcare, food, energy supplies, or new materials are unimaginable without the latest technology. Technology opens new paths to prosperity. Next week will celebrate Royal Institute of Engineers (KIvI), which was founded to “Make Change Possible”, is its 175th anniversary. save the paper The engineer Optimism explodes. For engineers, almost everything has a solution.

Of course, engineers must learn to deal with the social context. But it would be a tragedy if engineering and science and their applications were hampered by baseless fear of health and populism (think vaccine resistance) in a country that has benefited so much from scientific progress. Let the Netherlands not be afraid of technology, starting with alpha and gamma in politics!

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