4.1.3 Contemporary macro and meso technology assessment
While macro-level technology assessment may historically have been primarily the domain of governments and intergovernmental agencies, the growth of multinational and global commercial enterprises and NGOs means this is no longer the case. We can assume, for example, that the likes of IBM, Microsoft, Ford, Toyota, Panasonic, Sony, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and Oxfam (to name just a few) all subscribe to technology assessment, as it would be difficult to strategically plan the direction of the organisation (whether the development of products or campaigns) without it. Indeed, some examples of technology assessment cut across the various sectors, as is increasingly the case with military technologies, such as one of the most recent developments in aircraft – the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Given the globalisation of state transactions and interactions (Castells, 1996) and the global nature of the internet, which is the technological backbone of e-commerce and e-government, it is unsurprising that agencies such as the OECD, the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank nowadays often provide mechanisms (such as conferences, experts’ forums and research) by which governmental, commercial and third-sector interests can come together to debate macro and meso technology issues and assessments.
Activity 9 Identifying key interest groups in macro and meso technology assessment
For this activity you need to research governmental, commercial or non-governmental organisations and agencies (I’ve chosen to define these collectively as interest groups) that have an active interest in the assessment of a technology or technology-based project (e.g. hydro, wind or nuclear power generation, computer chip technology, search engines and so on) in any context of your choice (e.g. economic, environmental, political, etc).
Active interest means such things as commissioning assessment, lobbying, forming alliances to promote certain features or assumed benefits of the technology, and so on.
Try to identify a minimum of one and maximum of three interest groups and consider the the group(s) the technology, project or programme, what their specific involvement and/or interest is, and how this relates to other interest groups (i.e. does their involvement support or is in opposition to other groups, or both).