What Tenner Wrote About Technology

Edward Tenner (1996), who served as the editor for physics and science at Princeton University Press, suggested in many instances, the actual outcomes of technologies are contrary to the intended outcome and even make the original problem worse. Tenner used the term revenge effects to describe the outcomes of technology that are opposite the intended outcomes. The “paperless office” that was predicted to arrive with the arrival of computers is a familiar example of this reality: Many offices produce more paper when computers are introduced with the promise of electronic information and communication. Revenge effects, Tenner argues, are exacerbated when a technology is combined into social systems of laws, rules, and regulations are applied to technologies in a manner that is designed to meet political goals.


Tenner, Edward. (1996). Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf.