The Book

With a release date of April 12th 2023, the book Technology and Sustainable Development: The Promise and Pitfalls of Techno-solutionism marks the culmination of a collaborative effort by a group of researchers exploring the relationship between technology and sustainable development. The book will also be published open access.

Open access version (free to read and download) is now available!

The widely celebrated benefits of technological development during the past two centuries are now overshadowed by evidence of grave troubles in society, economics, politics, and Earth’s climate, ones often delivered, alas, by the very same set of technical wonders. How are we to think about these astonishing contrasts? The writings gathered in this collection offer rigorous, insightful methods for exploring the major challenges that vex world society today. A treasure chest of theories and case histories, the book offers sustenance for all of those seeking fruitful alternatives.

— Langdon Winner
Professor Winner is the author of Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-control  as a theme in political thought,
and The whale and the reactor: A search for limits in an age of high technology.

An interesting collection of chapters that reflect on the role of technology vis-à-vis sustainable development. Highly relevant against the backdrop of the imminent risks created by climate change, and rightly critical of technosolutionist approaches, the contributions to this volume helpfully highlight the political aspects of this challenging conundrum. Not to be missed.

Mark Coeckelbergh
Professor at the University of Vienna, author of AI Ethics, Green Leviathan, and The Political Philosophy of AI.


Technological change is at the core of all major disruptions in human history, and revolutions, wars, and general development are regularly connected to some sort of technological change. However, not all development is beneficial. While technology has fueled great innovations and rapid development, the notion of sustainable development has gained prominence as we now experience serious social, economic, and environmental challenges.

This book examines whether technology can be used to fix the very problems caused by technology, as the various chapters examine different aspects related to how technology has brought us where we are today (which some will say is the best place humanity’s been at according to a range of metrics), and whether technology helps or hinders us in our efforts to solve the challenges we currently face. The issues discussed cover the three sustainability dimensions and include topics such as the materiality of AI, technology in education, AI for gender equality, innovation and the digital divide, and how technology relates to power, the political system, and capitalism. The chapters all build on the theoretical backdrop of technological change, sustainable development, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are actively used throughout this book, both to examine how these goals capture or overlook central elements of sustainable development, and also to facilitate and create a common framework of engagement between the chapters.

This book provides a novel combination of traditional theories that are explored through different case studies, providing the ground for a better understanding of how and when technology can – and cannot – be the enabler of sustainable development. It is thus an important resource for students of all disciplines, technologists, and those developing and applying new technologies. It is also a valuable resource for politicians and regulators attempting to harness the power of technology for good, while limiting its negative potential.

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