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What is a Progress Trap?

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A progress trap is a new technology that could improve life but that ends up making things worse due to a failure to manage risks.
A new technology typically represents both a risk and an opportunity. It is common for opportunities to be exploited quickly and for societies to be slow to manage risks. In many cases, risk management never occurs or happens too late to prevent significant damage.

The Precautionary Principle

The precautionary principle is a principle of law and risk management that requires that new technologies be proved safe before release to the public or environment. In some cases, a technology does more harm than good and it makes no sense to introduce it at all.
Overview: Progress Trap
A technology that does more harm than good in the long term due to a failure to manage its risks.
A prehistoric society that improves its bows and arrows leading to the exhaustion of prey species and decline of a tribe.
A chemical that has industrial or agricultural uses but that causes significant health problems.
A medicine that cures one condition but is likely to cause a more serious condition.
The term progress trap was coined by Von Krämer in 1989. It fell into common parlance after the influential 2005 book "A short history of progress" by Ronald Wright.
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Von Krämer, W. Fortschrittsfalle Medizin (Medical progress traps), Der Spiegel, 13 March 1989
Wright, Ronald. A short history of progress. Canongate Books, 2006.