Technology as a System: An Approach to Creating Jobs

auto plantSTEM Programs – Technology as a System

When public officials speak to the citizenry about “technology”—which isn’t often—they tend to speak primarily in amorphous terms of programmatic benefits of one or another technology cast-as-a-program—with claims of prosperity’s being “just around the corner” thrown in to interest the technologically-challenged among us (a seemingly large and still rapidly growing portion of us), interspersed with patriotic appeals and dire predictions, should funding for each particular program somehow not be found.

During this difficult—indeed protracted and difficult—time, we propose to reverse this approach. We suggest thinking bigger in scope and longer in time, by refocusing public discourse on particularities of systems of technologies, accounted for in life-cycle terms. We think that approaching the public in this way would both respectfully provide the coherence and the sense of imagination that the technologically savvy often find lacking in ad hoc formulations of the past, while also (hopefully, and through interpersonally sensitive learning) respectfully providing less technologically savvy among us the impetus to study harder and work smarter (“With all these opportunities, if you work and study hard, you really will be rewarded.”)—basically, by being given opportunity to restore the middle class.

We think that citizens will support education programs—especially so-called “STEM” programs—with their tax dollars, and that their doing so will lead investors to appreciate such support (at whatever level from national to local jurisdictions) as an indication of a jurisdiction’s citizens eagerly moving forward into the future, instead of haltingly backing into it. Ironically, by making business not-first in a jurisdiction, we hope to make that jurisdiction’s businesses second to none located in less forward-looking jurisdictions.

Here follows an example of our approach, which views automobile and transportation technology from the more holistic perspective described above; we chose automotive/transportation primarily for the widespread familiarity—our own and that of many people around us—have over the years developed with the terms we have used.

  • Technologies that get materials to the auto production “starting line”, including technologies that recycle “used” materials and (if feasible) whole components
  • Technologies that contribute to a vehicle’s functionality, operation, safety, reliability, etc.
  • Technologies that produce such components
  • Technologies that produce machines that produce components, and technologies that produce machines that produce such machines
  • Technologies that facilitate re-organization of overall processes required and/or made possible by new technologies
  • Technologies that facilitate management of all these elements of production, including quality assurance programs
  • Technologies that support operation of vehicles, including “access to operation” (for example: first “ownership”; then ownership or leasing; next..?)
  • Technologies that maintain & repair vehicles, and technologies that train people in using them
  • Technologies that facilitate education related to such technologies
  • Technologies that are either similar enough in substance or deep enough in concept that supporting them effectively supports any of the automotive technologies listed
  • Technologies that substitute for automobiles, including technologies that could support system transformation away from automobile to more efficient transportation systems.

letcherIn closing, we believe that some jurisdiction will adopt our program—quickly. That’s because “economies of agglomeration” limit the number of success stories to a small handful at any level of function or location. It has become a very cruel world out there, and latecomers are cruelly left out. Until a new economic order emerges, only the technologically aware have a chance to prosper. We hope our approach will help us to that end.

Robert A. Letcher, PhD

Robert A. Letcher, Ph.D describes himself as “an academic with a disability instead of a portfolio, a writer, and a Qigong practitioner who tries to help people learn”.

Published by the LA Progressive on July 2, 2010
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About Robert Letcher

Robert A. Letcher, Ph.D. is a political economist who describes himself as "an academic without portfolio, writer, political activist, and Qigong practitioner who tries to help people learn".