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American Technological Myopia: How the Fascination with ‘High’ Technology leads to the Dangerous Tendency to Underestimate Simple and Effective Technologies
Unformatted Document Text:  American Technological Myopia: How Fascination with High-Technology has Prevented the Understanding of Effective Technology Jeffrey W. Lewis Ohio State University Undergraduate International Studies Program 33 Townshend Hall 1885 Neil Ave Columbus, OH 43210 Draft Version: Not for Attribution or Citation without Approval of Author Abstract: Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or roadside bombs have been a staple of guerilla and insurgent groups for more than a century since they provide weaker forces with the opportunity to strike when their adversaries are vulnerable. Given this, the lack of preparation of American forces for dealing with and responding to IEDs in Iraq is curious. One of the reasons is that American planners have a form of near-sightedness when it comes to technology, believing that American technology will invariably outperform the less sophisticated technologies of its adversaries and that context does not matter when it comes to technical performance. These assumptions have led to a tendency to under-estimate the effectiveness of technical systems that integrate elements of high and low technology in a context dependent manner. Keywords:Improvised Explosive Device, Iraq, IRA, technology

Authors: Lewis, Jeffrey.
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American Technological Myopia:
How Fascination with High-Technology has Prevented the
Understanding of Effective Technology
Jeffrey W. Lewis
Ohio State University
Undergraduate International Studies Program
33 Townshend Hall
1885 Neil Ave
Columbus, OH 43210
Draft Version: Not for Attribution or Citation without Approval of Author
Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or roadside bombs have been a staple of 
guerilla and insurgent groups for more than a century since they provide weaker forces 
with the opportunity to strike when their adversaries are vulnerable.  Given this, the lack 
of preparation of American forces for dealing with and responding to IEDs in Iraq is 
curious.  One of the reasons is that American planners have a form of near-sightedness 
when   it   comes   to   technology,   believing   that   American   technology   will   invariably 
outperform the less sophisticated technologies of its adversaries and that context does not 
matter   when   it   comes   to   technical   performance.     These   assumptions   have   led   to   a 
tendency to under-estimate the effectiveness of technical systems that integrate elements 
of high and low technology in a context dependent manner.
Improvised Explosive Device, Iraq, IRA, technology

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