Learning Lab Denmark - INCUBEus


If anyone thought survival of the human race meant struggling against nature, think again. The worst danger to mankind is man. Based on the best available databases on natural and technological disasters (see the file disaster data.pdf to the right), we can conclude that surviving in the 21st century takes more than fighting mother nature. It takes a good grip on the dangers of our own, mind-boggling technological creations.

Thus, while science and technology has become the driving force of global development, hazards and technological accidents have become an integral part of normal life in modern societies. It is these hazards and accidents, caused by human technology, which are our concern in the Hazard Cards Project. We are not technological pessimists, and we are not prophets of doom, we just want to know what is happening, why it is happening, and how civil society might play a more central role in making decisions about technological developments.

In order to do so, we look at a wide spectrum of theories about risks, technology, and decision making. We distinguish between different types of technologies and different categories by which hazards and accidents can be characterised and measured.

Nine Technologies
Modern technologies are so different in their composition and use that it makes no sense to apply the same yardstick to all of them. Technologies must be judged differently in terms of their relative usefulness and risks. For instance, technologies which represent a voluntary risk are often regarded with less skepticism than technologies that impose an involuntary risk upon the community.

Thus, it is crucial that advantages and disadvantages are carefully examined when a new technology is introduced. In the Hazard Cards we distinguish between nine technologies that are used in different industries and that require different approaches by society. In the texts to your right you can read more about the characteristics of these nine technologies.

Nine Theories
In the Hazard Cards Project, we draw upon a wide spectrum of theories in order to get a better understanding of technologies and risks. We find it necessary not only to analyse the technical, systemic, and organisational factors leading to an accident, but also to discuss the democratic and normative aspects of new technologies. In order to do so, we use theories that discuss technologies and risks from very different perspectives. You can find them on the right side of this webpage.

Five Categories
Here we explain the methods we have used to calculate the values of the five categories on the cards.

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Nine Technologies

A. Air Transport
B. Buildings
C. Land Transport
D. Marine Transport
E. Bridges and Dams
F. Oil Tankers
G. Chemical Industry
H. Medical Industry
I. Nuclear Industry

Nine Theories

Quantitative Risk Assessment
Decision Analysis
Cost-benefit Analysis
Normal Accident Theory
High Reliability Organisations
Risk communication
Arena Theory
Cultural Theory

Five Categories

Hazard (0-1000)
Range (km2)
Fear Factor (0-10)
Media Effect (0-100)