Evaluating Technological Risk: Prescriptive and Descriptive Perspectives

Lathrop, J.W. (1982). Evaluating Technological Risk: Prescriptive and Descriptive Perspectives. In: The Risk Analysis Controversy. pp. 165-180 GeRMANY: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. ISBN 978-3-642-81940-7 10.1007/978-3-642-81940-7_12.

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Decisions concerning the deployment and management of novel or hazardous technologies raise several issues involving the evaluation of their impacts on society. Examples of such decisions include the siting of a liquefied natural gas facility, the regulation of nuclear energy production, and the screening and regulation of toxic chemicals. Each of these kinds of decisions results in uncertain benefits and costs to society. It would seem reasonable, then, that such decisions could be aided by any of several analytic techniques, including cost-benefit analysis, or perhaps decision analysis, which could include in the evaluation attitudes toward uncertainty and value trade-offs between conflicting objectives. However, there are often special aspects involved in such decisions that can make standard technical or economic analyses not very useful for aiding political decision making processes. These aspects include outcomes of the decision having very serious negative consequences with very low probability, inequitable distribution of burden, large scale, novelty, and others to be discussed below. Decisions involving such aspects sometimes come to be known as problems in managing social risk. Even though the word risk is currently in wide use in the media, it is often defined or applied in different ways by different parties for the decision at hand. In spite of this serious problem, to be discussed at some length below, the need to appraise the risks presented by a new or hazardous technology has led to the development of several analytic techniques often referred to collectively as risk assessment.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Programs: Technology, Economy, Society (TES)
Depositing User: Romeo Molina
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2016 13:08
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:28
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/14076

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