Understanding obstacles to change key to timely adoption of technologies needed to address global problems; How the history of margarine and tractors can inform policy making
Disruptive, transformative technologies are being introduced at an accelerating pace, fuelling opposition that impedes forms of innovation needed to meet profound challenges such as climate change, poverty and world hunger, says a new study from Harvard University.
Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technology, by Prof. Calestous Juma of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, chronicles the history of opposition to change — from tractors and certain uses of the printing press to coffee and margarine — and its underlying reasons.
Such understanding is critical, he argues, to the successful introduction and adoption of technological innovations needed to cope with humanity’s most serious economic and environmental challenges.
Published as a book by Oxford University Press, the 16-year study says fear and perceptions of lost employment, identity, and power drive impediment to innovation, and describes the widening gap between the pace of technological advancement and slow rate at which society adjusts.