The Dynamics of Technology: A Methodological Framework for Techno-Economic Analyses

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Technology is taking on an increasingly central and determining role in so- ciety, and can provide contradictory results: wealth on the one hand, but also unemployment, environmental imbalances and other social problems on the other. Manufacturing techniques and production organization are chosen in every country based mainly on the specific needs of the companies, while the real needs of each population are often quite different. Already, in order to prevent all forms of technology from becoming in- creasingly invasive , towards both the natural supply of resources and the specific - though highly differentiated - needs of humanity, technological paths must be identified and followed which are capable of making the vari- ous needs compatible, from the standpoint of sustainable development, the conservation and increase in value of natural resources, and the quality of development. This will become increasingly important in the future. This goal is undoubtedly ambitious and difficult to achieve; however, evi- dence of the problems caused by generalized, uncontrolled use of technolo- gy, all over the world, leads us to believe that intense efforts must be made to achieve this aim. If not, humankind runs the risk of an irreversible degra- dation of the most important aspects of economic development and its quali- ty. Within this framework, those companies that produce goods and services obviously occupy a central, active role, which they must play with a view both to competitiveness and overall qualification and to contributing to the objectives of sustainable development.