Witnessing the large-scale destruction wrought by modern technologies while having studied and worked alongside engineers led to much interrogation on the ethics, sociology and history of technology. I now share this questioning in talks and workshops, mainly: how do we ensure that technological innovation serves only the highest and best purpose? So far, I have delved more deeply into the two categories detailed below: an investigation into the supply chains of metals used electronic components, which highlights how unsustainable our current models are and lead me to believe that systematic societal collapse in underway. The latter topic would unbearable without the spiritual support of Joanna Macy‘s Work That Reconnects, which I am always extremely happy to share and discuss.
For more details on my thoughts, please see my blog: Ethics in STEM
A deeper look inside electronics
An investigation into the metals involved in the fabrication of electronic technologies, using mobile phones as an iconic example, and into the environmental and human costs of mining, transport and recycling (or not) of the materials. Raising awareness of these issues is urgent as our use of electronics is set to increase with so many ‘smart’ devices being promised. In addition, as ICT technologies are exploding, their demand on the world’s energy resources is increasing dramatically, a fact hardly ever mentioned.
- Talk: The supply chains of electronic technologies, as part of ‘Wellbeing and Awareness in a Digital World’, The Guildhall, Cardigan, March 2020.
- Talk: The Wonders of Rare Metals, York Festival of Ideas, June 2019 & Teesside University, October 2019.
- Talk: A deeper look inside your mobile phone, Pint of Science Festival, York, May 2019.
- Workshop: Imagining sustainable electronics, York Festival of Ideas, June 2018.
Navigating collapse & the Work That Reconnects
We are living in times of widening, interrelated crises – climate change; dramatic loss of biodiversity; increased social inequalities; conflicts and migrations. Only by facing the truth of the situation can we look to springboard towards a life sustaining society. There is no denying the challenges in embracing the coming uncertainties and that this will call in difficult emotions, yet I believe that the guidance provided by the Work that Reconnects can help strengthen our capacity to faces the crises and build our resilience.
Most of my work so far has been to highlight the issues, I am now turning towards possibles answers, which to my mind are not large-scale, nor fancy, nor tech-heavy, nor top-down. They involve reconnecting with ourselves, our communities and the patches of land we live on.
- Talk: Lifting the Taboo: A discussion of unfolding societal collapse, Yarbrugh Lecture, York University, May 2019.
‘Thank you so much for a great seminar last night – I loved the approach’