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What is Technofix and How Can It Be Problematic?

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Technology is a key aspect of sustainable living, but it is not the only solution, and its dangerous to think so.


What is Technofix?

The concept of techno-fix follows the saying “modern problems require modern solutions”. It is a technological solution to problems - and it’s gaining popularity with the increasing complexity of modern problems. Some Technofix examples you may have heard of:

  • “Inject CO2 into the ground”

  • “Search for a low-carbon space travel”

  • “Finding sources of renewable energy in households”

  • “Genetically modified organisms to combat famine”

Technofix has been observed to address the symptoms or the side-effects of problems, through discoveries, experiments, inventions, etc., however, it does not address the root of the problem.



Technofix can be divided into 3 main categories:

  1. Counter-technologies: These are created to deal with the negative repercussions of technologies. For example, specially designed boats that go out on eutrophic lakes to collect algal mats, the algal blooms probably resulted from pollution (which came from ‘other’ technologies).

  2. Social fixes: Using purely science or technology to solve social justice issues. An excellent example of this is increasing industrialized agriculture to solve the issue of world hunger, although poverty and hunger may not even be a cause of a global food shortage but instead economic and political factors.

  3. Efficiency improvements: Increasing efficiency only in increments. For example, increasing the fuel efficiency of cars slowly with each new model is a marketing tactic more than an actual improvement. It seeks to bring profits to manufacturers who can release multiple models, each with a slowly increasing efficiency to get more sales, as opposed to jumping directly to high efficiency.

red electric tesla model s car on a grey road
Electric vehicles (EVs) have often been touted as a technological solution to vehicular polllution by eliminating fossil fuels. However, these statements don't account for the energy needed to charge these vehicles, and the resource intense processes the occur to acquire their parts. Shown above is a Tesla Model S. Source: Tesla

How can Technofix be Problematic?


It can do More Harm than Good

Most technology is exploitative, abusing ecosystems, animals, and other humans. In the recent past, new discoveries, and scientific agendas- especially by private co-operations- have a profit motive and or negative impacts. For example, technology such as carbon capture can also be very inaccessible to developing nations, energy-intensive and require high volumes of non-renewable sources such as metals.


Environmental Effects

There are several solutions out there to the many environmental issues, that mainly involve the use of technology or inventions. The problem is that some of these visions severely misunderstand and underestimate the nature of the crises we face. If we rally behind the wrong one, we may end up propelling the planet all the more quickly towards destruction.


Eco-modernism and left accelerationism, two of the main emerging philosophies, both wrongly envision that technological progress will allow us to address climate and ecological breakdown while also dramatically increasing production and consumption. The ways we work, travel, eat, and even think are all locked into systems that perpetuate the use of fossil fuels, and carbon emissions, encroach on the natural world and exploit wealth and resources from third-world countries.


Lack of Longevity and Pragmatism

Instead of addressing the root causes of our problems, we use "techno-fixes," which only address the symptoms, which may result in short-term results but can prove to be useless in the long run. Therefore, a change in ways of living and going to the start of the problem seems like a more permanent solution, rather than dreaming up a magic machine that will put an end to the after-effects that affect people, that we started in the first place.


It is also irresponsible and ignorant in one sense, as the basis of technofix indirectly aims to pass the effects of these problems over to the coming generations, implying that they can resolve them through inventions. All technology-focused future visions require wildly unrealistic increases in energy generation. This is a problem because since we have used up most of the easy-to-access sources, the quality of our energy resources is declining. Also, the safety net of inventions and technology-supported cures gives people the illusion that an active need for change, in the present when the problems are actively happening and worsening, isn’t required.

white rice and yellow golden rice being compared with each other
Genetically modified (GM) crops are another popular example of technofix, where genetic modification, rather than reducing food wastage, is preferred a solution despite its costs and potential ecological problems. Shown above is regular rice (L) and Golden rice (R), one of the most well-known examples of a GM crop. Source: Wikimedia Commons

These imagined futures have obvious appeal to those who enjoy the luxuries of consumption and technological innovation. But the premises on which they rest are fatally flawed. Clearly, technofix futures are more attractive options for many of those who are not on the frontlines of climate chaos – and who might be able to continue living high-consumption lifestyles for a decade or two more. Problems like global warming and energy sources running out are happening now, and even though it is unknown if there can be a technological invention to solve the same, trying to contribute less to this change has to be made at an individual and global level, starting today.



References

Joanna B., Simon M.(October, 2019). Techno-fix futures will only accelerate climate chaos – don’t believe the hype.


tehmeena13.(November, 2014). What is “Techno-fix’?


The Inquisitive Biologist.(2021). BOOK REVIEW – TECHNO-FIX: WHY TECHNOLOGY WON’T SAVE US OR THE ENVIRONMENT.



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