Ursula Franklin - Radar Traps

Playback Rate 1

I want to give you an example of how a tool can really redefine a problem and here I want to look at speeding and radar traps as I promised.

Let's look back at the purpose of speed limits. It wants to enhance safety not to reduce criminality that we people put speed limits on major highways and one way of enforcing these was to use the judicious presence of clearly marked police cars on the highway. They would travel at the speed limit and keep the traffic within the regulated pattern and it was a whole traffic pattern.

Then the availability of radar traps change the situation because another factor entered to that. The emphasis now shifted from common safety to individual criminality and the rationale was that the fear of being caught and fined would be a way to enforce the regulations.

Now, you know what then happened the next thing was a technological device that allows the driver safe or not to be warned of the radar trap the thing that's normally called a Fuzz Buster. And now the motorists less concerned with safety than with criminality could buy an avoidance device whether it was legal or not. The next iteration is a device for the law enforcement to detect the Fuzz Buster and there's now on the market a device in which the driver can detect the device that detects a Fuzz Buster that detects the radar trap.

But what it means is that the common problem of road safety has been totally transformed into a private problem and into a technological cat and mouse game. And one might say that the technological possibility of establishing random criminality have prevented the development of techniques to establish collectively a safe driving environment and I want to close with that because that should say that one needs to look at technology. Not only what it does but also in terms of what it prevents and whether by the mere presence of a technological approach to a social problem one does not redefine the problem to the detriment of the total situation.

Audio file from The Real World of Technology by Ursula Franklin.

Source code from Hyperaudio Lite by Mozilla.