Beware the Tyranny of the ‘Ology’

I will not fabricate uncertaintyIf you think that fake news are a problem only in politics or a relatively recent consequence of social networks, open your eyes (and your ears). Science and technology are awash with fake news, and I do not mean the deliberate, criminal promotion of uncertainty, but the much more widely spread fake-tech, vapour-ware that suffocates science and technology news.

In a brief post for WEF, Hilary Sutcliffe, Director of SocietyInside, summarises the drawbacks of the “economy of promises” that rules research and innovation:

… in order to get the money, scientists and businesses have to massively exaggerate the potential benefit of their ‘ology’ — ‘an end to hunger’ ‘electricity too cheap to meter’, ‘the end of disease’ — the media love it, funders get excited and the money flows.

The tyranny of the “ology”, the hype that surrounds trendy technologies, prevent us from having an honest debate about the potential benefits and risks of those technologies. She reminds us that the language we choose to use is not neutral: metaphors matter, and encourages us to ditch the “post-truth” approach to innovation.

You will surely realise that the title of the post is horrible, one of those X-lessons-for-the-BIGHYPE titles used by mainstream media. What a paradox! Nobody can escape the tyranny of clickbait!

But trust me, and read the post.

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