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RSM Seminar | Dr Cameron Gordon

RSM Seminar | Dr Cameron Gordon

Presenter: Dr. Cameron Gordon, Adjunct Associate Professor in the Research School of Management 

Title: “Carbarism”: civilising the automobile 


Technology is never neutral with respect to society. Its contribution to civilization can just as easily be negative as positive. Any technology should to be introduced into the wild (so to speak) in a way that ensures that civilization is advanced along with technical progress. This paper reviews the social dimensions of the rolling out and utilization of one particular technology – the automobile – in the United States over the past one hundred years, starting with the early days steeped largely (but not exclusively) in technological idealism; moving through an age of car-ascendancy and peak in the 1950s and 1960 (with the birth of a literal “car culture”); and into the present day of automobile dependency in the midst of a profound changes in auto technology that have unclear societal implications. This review generally indicates that the machine, rather than the human operator, was from early on the center of the creation of a car-based system in America which effectively made the human being and society a reactor to technical progress rather than the other way around. We can, and should, do better. The technological and mechanical aspects of automobiles remain impressive and their driverless versions seem even more so. However society should now attempt to avoid past “barbaric” uses of the ever-evolving car (which will be referred to here as “Carbarism”). Technical advances are good and to be encouraged, but these should be guided and channeled into the pursuit of and service to more enlightened and humanist – more “civilized” – applications. This paper will conclude with a framework for how this process might be begun. 

Presenter bio: 

Cameron Gordon is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Research School of Management. He has also served as Associate Professor of Economics in the Research School of Economics and holds a PhD in Economics. Dr. Gordon holds a concurrent appointment as a Principal Investigator with the Social Policy Simulation Center of the City University of New York and has held prior full-time faculty appointments in Economics (with the University of Canberra), Finance (with the University of Canberra and the City University of New York) and Public Administration (with the University of Southern California). 

Dr. Gordon has been on program committees for the Transportation Research Board (TRB) (part of the US National Academy of Sciences – National Research Council) for over 20 years and currently serves on the Transportation Economics and Finance Committee. He has held 

visiting appointments with the University of Sydney, Institute of Transport and Logistics (ITLS); the Imperial College of London; Centre for Transport Studies; and the TRANSyT Centre at the Polytechnic University of Madrid. He has published over sixty journal articles, including publications in the A ranked journals Transport Policy, Science and Engineering Ethics, and Journal of Urban Technology. He has also published two books, one sole-authored; and will be publishing “The birth of the modern world: an interdisciplinary history of the world economy since 1800” with Palgrave-MacMillan in 2021. 

Before his academic career, Dr. Gordon had a long public service career which included work for the US Congress Joint Committee on Taxation; the US Department of Defense – US Army Corps of Engineers; the US Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations; the US National Academy of Sciences – Board of Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment; and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Supply and Municipal Water Finance Authority. 

Cameron’s research focuses on interdisciplinary economic history: in particular, the areas where the social implications of technology and technical change intersect. Cameron also studies economic evaluation methods, the economics of urban passenger transport, travel and transit, the social and economic disadvantage driven by transport inequities, and transport system resilience. Cameron is known as an expert in the economic evaluation of public policy and he has been asked to contribute his expertise to international issues including to the State of New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery; the New York City Mayor’s Office; the City of Chicago Inspector General; the Victoria Auditor-General’s Office; the Ministry of Finance in Iraq; the US National Conference of State Legislatures; the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Transport; and the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (Australia), among others. 

Updated:   16 October 2020 / Responsible Officer:  CBE Communications and Outreach / Page Contact:  College Web Team