Large-scale urban development, not to mention synthetic urbanization, will not remain sustainable absent structural changes to the normative and decision making framework that include rolling technology assessment and systems analysis. Technology policies need to be based on outcomes as well as on significant improvements in complexity management at critical stages of planning and implementation. This conclusion endures even if it requires limiting options of political decision making in open democratic societies through normative structural automatisms. Independent of political trends, social consensus almost everywhere favors a prioritization of energy efficiency, alternative energies, resource recycling, urban farming, cost- and time-effective public transportation, water economy, and extended product life. But public interest-driven decision making processes, legislation, and dispute resolution do not adequately take into account the acceleration of technological innovation on the one hand, and of environmental deterioration on the other hand. This paper exposes fundamental weaknesses and future needs for technology assessment drawing on European, American and global experiences. It highlights challenges to avoid possible crises of legitimacy and anti-technology groundswells of Luddite proportions as well as forgoing groundbreaking opportunities for an open knowledge society based on informed consent rather than state mandate.
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