Can Government Regulate Technology?

In Philosophy and Technology, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. 80. Dordrecht: pp. 17-33 (1983)
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Theorists and activists favor empowering government agencies to regulate technology; but an examination of such regulation by the US government exposes the inadequacy of any such regimen. Vested interests routinely interfere, e.g., keeping administration of polio vaccine in the hands of physicians, political infighting with regard to cancer research funding, advantages gained from noncompliance with military technology-constraining treaties. Public/private salary differences limit availability of the best talents for government positions, nor are truly appropriate regulatory policies easily arrived at in the absence of meaningful funding. Solutions such as a Science Court are unreliable given the influences that would undermine neutrality as well as competence.

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Edmund Byrne
Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis


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