One of history’s recurring themes is that technology sometimes outruns society, leaving politicians gasping to catch up with the consequences. So it was with the impact of the printing press, the steam engine and the computer. Arguably, so it is again today with gene editing, social media and artificial intelligence.
While technologists often rail that politicians just do not “get” technology, politicians counter that technologists all too rarely grasp politics.
One fascinating example of both sides of the debate was the history of the technocracy movement that briefly flourished in North America in the 1930s. The “revolt of the engineers”, as it was called, holds some interesting lessons for today.
对辩论双方都适用的一个有趣例子是上世纪30年代在北美短暂兴盛的技术治国(technocracy)运动。这场当时被称为“工程师起义”(revolt of the engineers)的运动，有不少地方值得今天的人们思考。
It was understandable that radical movements emerged in the US in the 1930s in response to the Great Depression, just as communism and fascism proliferated in Europe. The technocracy movement argued that the best way out of the crisis was to reject the messiness of the market and old-fashioned politics and adopt a “modern scientific point of view”.