My future research will center on the controversy over the practice of "rewilding." A more recently developed paradigm within conservation biology, rewilders argue that there is something special and ecologically important about wildness. The most extreme proponents dream of reviving and restoring woolly mammoths and other extinct megafauna. But rewilding remains both scientifically and politically contested. What kinds of biodiversity are important, and how should we promote it? What about the people and non-human species potentially displaced or harmed by rewilding? How do we responsibly realize new ecosystems that function more like now-extinct ones? And where to human beings fit in?
In my earlier work, I focused on the role that knowledge plays in a democratic society. Worries about the arrival of a post-truth society to me seem both ahistorical and overblown. They also misunderstand the whole point of democracy. My second book, The Divide, tackles the challenges, trade offs, and seeming paradoxes inherent in realizing a democracy that is not only intelligent, but also fosters trust among citizens and for experts.
My dissertation research was focused on the role that technological change plays in human social relationships and the organization of community. A healthy skepticism of networked individualism, technological liberalism, and the rhetoric of choice as well as an interest in concepts like engagement and the good life drives my thinking. This research culminated in my first book, Technically Together. It focused on the question of how societies could more reliably realize artifacts, infrastructures, organizations, and built environments that are communally ergonomic - that is, technologies that encourage local community engagement as an integral part of everyday life.
I am a frequent contributor to The New Atlantis, with articles on COVID-19, scientism in politics, nuclear energy, and online shaming. I have penned opinions pieces for The Washington Post, Zocalo Public Square, and ISSUES in Science and Technology. And I have recently started a Substack with two friends, called Taming Complexity. My academic articles have appeared in journals such as AI & Society, Technology in Society, Social Epistemology, Philosophy & Technology, the Journal of Responsible Innovation, Engaging Science, Technology, and Society, and the Journal of Urbanism.
Prior to becoming a professor of social science at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, I earned a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from RPI - which came after a bachelors and masters in mathematics from New Mexico Tech. My life before academia included stints crunching large data-sets for a multinational chemical company and teaching mathematics courses on a reservation in North-Central Montana. I also play rugby (when not rehabbing an injury).
Research Areas: communitarian technologies; urban design; the good life; the politics of technology; the barriers to more democratic technological societies; water-energy-food nexus; epistemological luddism; responsible innovation; intelligent trial and error; political scientism; democratic pluralism