Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences

Edward Tenner, Author, Tenner, Author Alfred A. Knopf $25.5 (352p) ISBN 978-0-679-42563-2
Even when used to better the world, technology fosters unforeseen, often unpleasant consequences that Tenner calls ""revenge effects."" For example, air-conditioned subways raise platform temperatures by as much as 10 degrees F; some computer users get painful, wrist-numbing carpal tunnel syndrome; flood control systems encourage settlement of flood-prone areas, inviting disaster; 6% of all hospital patients become infected with microbes they encounter during their stay. In a thought-provoking study, Tenner, a historian of science and visiting researcher at Princeton, looks at revenge effects that pop up in medicine, sports, the computerized office and the environment. Oil spills, erosion of beaches, back injuries, athletes' illegal use of steroids and mass extermination of bird species on the world's islands by ship-hopping rats mark this saga of bewildering, often frustrating change. Tenner's cautionary conclusion: revenge effects demand ingenuity and brainpower as technology continues to replace life-threatening problems with slower-acting, more persistent ones. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1996
Release date: 01/01/1996
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-613-91392-8
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-679-74756-7
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