Public and private standards-setters also have fundamentally different conceptions of technology. They disagree about how the state of technology limits the range of possible provisions in safety standards. To the private sector, technology is usually seen as a constraint. It is a given.
Government agencies are far more willing to "force" technology through requirements that are unattainable with technology currently in use. The private sector, by contrast, seems unwilling to give technology even a gentle nudge. To private standards-setters, the current state of technology refers to what is generally in use, not to what is close at hand or on the so-called cutting edge. Hence, the ANSI/AGA committee was unwilling to require the oxygen depletion sensor on space heaters even after it was marketed by one company. The technology was still considered "speculative" and "unproven," so the committee deemed it an optional portion of the standard. In both of those cases, the government illustrated a willingness to do what the private sector would not. The FAA and the CPSC considered, and later required, solutions that moved beyond the technologies that were widely available. There was a feeling at the FAA, according to one staff member, that "the market would respond to the need for smoke alarms designed especially for aircraft." Similarly, when questions were raised about the feasibility of the largely unproven oxygen depletion sensor, CPSC staffers were equally convinced that the market would adapt.