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.
|Definition||A technology that does more harm than good in the long term due to a failure to manage its risks.|
|Examples||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.|
|Origin||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. |
|Related Concepts||Precautionary PrincipleInnovationTechnology Ethics|
This is the complete list of articles we have written about risks.
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An overview of technology ethics.
An overview of the precautionary principle.
An overview of existential risk.
When culture isn't ready for the future.
A list of forces that shape technology in the long run.
A list of major types of technology.
An overview of the term precrime as it relates to technology ethics.
The definition of medicalization with examples.
The definition of dark pattern with examples.
An overview of the potential disadvantages of technology with examples.
A list of common business risks.
The four things that can be done about risk.
A metric for measuring risk management.
The potential that you'll achieve too much of a good thing.
Any risk that people have a strong aversion too.
The definition of risk taking with examples.
A list of risk examples by type.
The two main factors in modeling a risk.
A definition of calculated risk with an example.
How to calculate relative risk with examples.
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ReferencesVon Krämer, W. Fortschrittsfalle Medizin (Medical progress traps), Der Spiegel, 13 March 1989Wright, Ronald. A short history of progress. Canongate Books, 2006.
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