Technological determinism on society goes back and forth depending on the field, the innovations and society itself but we should define certain parameters for this technological determinism to head us in the right direction. By back and forth I mean that a technological discovery sometimes determines society but on some others they do not, like unfortunately is the case of Better Place.
For some people electric cars mean saving the world and our future, for others it is just a hassle, both understandable. Although their timing to build their company’s infrastructure was definitely not a conservative strategy it had its purpose behind it. Now it is really easy to say that they should have built their stations slowly and by stages, if that would have been the case probably less people would have decided to change their gasoline fueled cars to electric cars due to the specific small amount of stations they could go to, therefore being uncomfortable and not very practical.
Now because of the “unlucky” bankruptcy of Better Place both investors and costumers have lost some faith on the electric car business. In the article “Why your car isn’t electric” by Maggie Koerth-Baker, she explains that this similar situation happened in the 1900’s when 34 percent of cars in New York, Chicago and Boston were powered by en electric motor. A series of flawed deals took the Electric Vehicle Company from being the largest carmaker in the United States to bankruptcy and brought the idea of electric cars down with them.
Governments and social institutions, like the media, should back up and give some reward to these kinds of projects even more now so that history does not repeat itself and we end up waiting another 100 years, which we might not have, for them to resurface. In cases like these, where the betterment of society is procured, is where these institutions should outline which innovations should be “required” for society, leaving no room for interpretative flexibility on behalf of the people. For the purpose of exampling what I mean I will exaggerate and say that governments could get to the point where they could ban combustion-powered cars.
It was not only a really hard and expensive lesson for Better Place to learn, that society might still not be ready for this positive and necessary change, but it should also be a lesson for society and each one of us, that even though a company undertook such an ambitious and beneficial venture for the betterment of the entire world and our future generations our lack of action wasted this opportunity.
We might have to learn the hard way too, if we don’t change our cars and stay with our gasoline cars in our “comfort zone”, we are only affecting ourselves and our descendants, and it won’t be Better Place the one paying the price this time.
- Koerth-Baker, Maggie. 2012. “Why Your Car Isn’t Electric.” New York Times Magazine, October 7. Online document, nytimes.com/2012/10/07/magazine/why-your-car-isnt-electric.html.
- Cheslow, Daniella. 2013. “Electric-Car Company ‘Better Place’ Fails To Make It in the Start-Up Nation”. Tablet Magazine, June 25. Online document, http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/135816/ev-better-place-agassi.