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The Perils of Energy Technocracy

By Donald Norman -- May 10, 2013

“There is no evidence that government scientists and engineers are better at forecasting the future and know how the future will play out better than the scientists and engineers in private companies. Technocrats ignore the fact that private companies also hire scientists and engineers, (not to mention MBA’s and economists) and make investments based on their outlook for the future.”

The technocracy movement that arose in the early part of twentieth century advocated turning over the reins of governmental decision making to scientists, engineers and other “technocrats”. It was argued that the expertise of technocrats would result in better decisions than those made by private companies.

The idea of technocracy was embedded in the concept of central planning and was heralded by Thorstein Veblen and embraced by the Soviet Union. In the early years of the Great Depression the movement enjoyed renewed popularity, the belief being that technical, rational and apolitical expertise could revive the economy.