Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Science and Technology Policy in the United States

Science and Technology Policy in the United States: Open Systems in Action

Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 352
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Science and Technology Policy in the United States
    Book Description:

    During the latter half of the twentieth century, federal funding in the United States for scientific research and development increased dramatically. Yet despite the infusion of public funds into research centers, the relationship between public policy and research and development remains poorly understood. How does the federal government attempt to harness scientific knowledge and resources for the nation's economic welfare and competitiveness in the global marketplace? Who makes decisions about controversial scientific experiments, such as genetic engineering and space exploration? Who is held accountable when things go wrong? In this lucidly-written introduction to the topic, Sylvia Kraemer draws upon her extensive experience in government to develop a useful and powerful framework for thinking about the American approach to shaping and managing scientific innovation. Kraemer suggests that the history of science, technology, and politics is best understood as a negotiation of ongoing tensions between open and closed systems. Open systems depend on universal access to information that is complete, verifiable, and appropriately used. Closed systems, in contrast, are composed of unique and often proprietary features, which are designed to control usage. From the Constitution's patent clause to current debates over intellectual property, stem cells, and internet regulation, Kraemer shows the promise-as well as the limits-of open systems in advancing scientific progress as well as the nation's economic vitality.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-3947-8
    Subjects: Political Science, History of Science & Technology, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. 1 Introduction: Open Systems
    (pp. 1-12)

    Many of us associate “open systems” with computers and industrial products designed for interoperability and standardized interfaces among their components. The architecture of the Internet, for example, is an open system, a characteristic that has enabled its global spread during the last decades of the twentieth century, accompanied by social, economic, and political changes we are only beginning to appreciate. Open systems also play important roles elsewhere in the modern technology-based economy—for example, in the U.S. military’s approach to weapons systems procurement, which historically has had a powerful influence on the course of this country’s industrial development.¹

    The quality...

  6. 2 Technology and the Ideology of Free Markets
    (pp. 13-28)

    Neither scientific discovery nor technological innovation could have seized hold of the modern imagination without a profound change in widely held levels of confidence in the power of individuals to comprehend the natural world, and to apply the laws of nature to the shaping of man’s social and moral universe. That change consisted less in the sequential replacement of one widely shared perception of the world by another, than in the emergence of persuasive competitors to metaphysical explanations of human destiny. Such explanations saw human souls at the mercy of a single willful divinity, one who ruled a world in...

  7. 3 The Ideologies of Science
    (pp. 29-53)

    In the last year of the William Clinton administration (1992–2000) the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued an attractively printed and illustrated report entitled “Wellspring of Prosperity: Science and Technology in the U.S. Economy.”¹ Like all such reports it was a political document, designed to secure support for the administration in exchange for continuing support for the policies advocated in the report. The report appeared in the eighth and last year of a Democratic administration whose vice president (Al Gore) was campaigning to become Clinton’s successor. An ardent advocate for the protection of the natural...

  8. 4 The Science and Technology Policy Toolkit
    (pp. 54-93)

    However widespread the appeal of principles of openness and transparency in government, ideologies and principles in themselves are only abstractions. They must acquire traction in daily experience to breathe and endure. In the arena of policy it is the often maligned business of public administration (that is, what government bureaucracies do) that will prove—or disprove—the viability of political ideals. Among the industrialized democracies, variations are due largely to the extent to which each country’s political system supports centralized or decentralized approaches to policy making, as well as a larger or lesser role of government in its economy.


  9. 5 Science, Technology, and Political Authority
    (pp. 94-118)

    In this chapter we turn to the tension between scientific and technical authority and political accountability in the United States. This tension is most typically acknowledged in media accounts of contests between “science” and “politics,” such as the controversy over FDA approval of the “morning after” contraceptive pill. But the arena in which the authority of scientists and engineers competes with political accountability is vast, bounded on its sides by laws and administrative practices that govern citizen access to reliable information and its use in policy making. These boundaries are manifest by (1) the standing of scientific and engineering evidence...

  10. 6 Open Systems in a Digital World
    (pp. 119-148)

    The open political system around which the United States’ governing institutions were designed has combined with evolving information technologies to shape a revolution in the way we produce, manage, and communicate information. As a result most of us will be drawn into, and are already impacted by, the new and still expanding cultural and technological universe commonly called “cyberspace.”¹ By virtue of the medium of which it is composed, this new universe transcends traditional geopolitical boundaries. As a consequence it has not only spawned its own set of policy challenges, but is forcing on us the need to reconsider the...

  11. 7 Open Systems in Outer Space
    (pp. 149-177)

    Breathtaking photographs of inter-stellar space from the Hubble Space Telescope; images of the Earth’s changing climate, oceans, and land formations; astronauts, an orbiting space station’s lights blinking overhead on a clear night, and Space Shuttles going up into space and twice catastrophically failing to return: All provide the personalities and visual interest much desired by our television news and feature networks, and hence a broad public awareness of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which is arguably the best known public R&D institution in the United States. The agency’s programs in space science, Earth science, microgravity and biological sciences, and...

  12. 8 The Crisis in American Health Care
    (pp. 178-214)

    Our dependence on the private automobile, with its complex technological network of industrial, energy, and infrastructure systems, has generated great demands on our capacity for public policy that effectively coordinates the desires of individuals with the shared desires of the entire society. Yet the content of the national policy choices posed by the ubiquitous private automobile are relatively accessible to most informed citizens. For example, few people question that automobile engines can and must burn cleaner and more efficiently; debates occur over how fast and by what policy mechanisms (including reliance on the market place) that objective can be met....

  13. 9 Fossil Fuels and Clean Air
    (pp. 215-245)

    While energy and environmental policy are made and carried out in the United States by different legislative and administrative structures at both state and federal levels, their intimate connection is reflected in the fact that no energy policy initiative today can be made without addressing its probable impact on the environment. This connection was acknowledged in the May 2001 report of the Bush administration’s controversial National Energy Policy Development Group (see chapter 5), which supported incentives to increase the use of fuel-efficient motor vehicles, and devoted a chapter to the necessity of “protecting America’s environment” with reduced emissions from electric...

  14. 10 Epilogue
    (pp. 246-260)

    From Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush, U.S. foreign policy has aspired to illuminate the world with a combination of liberal political and capitalist values more commonly understood as an inseparable pairing of democracy and prosperity. This simple formulation overlooks the importance of a nation of laws constrained only by a written constitution in ensuring both political freedom and an orderly and predictable environment for economic activity. It also overlooks the central role of science and technology in generating the prosperity that is presumed to result from “democracy.” While the iconography of American freedom in the United States is dominated...

    (pp. 261-270)
  16. NOTES
    (pp. 271-304)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 305-326)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 327-328)