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Innovation

Is technology innovation plagued by arrogance and hubris?

Technology disasters are often the result of cocky know-it-alls who neglect to ponder worse case scenarios because they are too arrogant to think their projects will fail.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Technology disasters are often the result of cocky know-it-alls who neglect to ponder worse case scenarios because they are too arrogant to think their projects will fail.

That's the gist of an interesting Associated Press analysis. The cycle goes like this. Tech disaster---space shuttles explode, bridges collapse, offshore oil wells spew---arrives, commissions investigate and conclude that few thought these projects could fail.

AP sums it up:

The common thread -- which the new presidential oil spill commission will be looking for -- often is technological arrogance and hubris. It's the belief by those in charge that they're the experts, that they know what they're doing is safe. Add to that the human weaknesses of avoidance, greed and sloppiness, say academics who study disasters.

Anyone that has to deal with the various moving parts of information technology runs into this arrogance. The user doesn't know what he's doing. He's just using the software wrong.

The AP story raises a few interesting questions.

  • Are we too enamored with cutting edge technologies?
  • Why don't innovators think of worst case scenarios?
  • What processes can be put in place to prevent the inevitable corner cutting?
  • And are technological advances really plagued by hubris?

There are no easy answers and failures will continue. Why? Safety is often overlooked. What's your take?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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