Do These Technologies Deserve To Die?

from the seems-a-bit-extreme dept

Well known author Bruce Sterling has written up an article for MIT’s Technology Review suggesting ten technologies that deserve to die. These are technologies, he says, that “are so blatantly obnoxious that the human race would rejoice if they were obliterated” and suggests that most are “obsolete technologies that are the dangerous hangovers of previous, less advanced generations.” While I’m sure everyone could come up with their own such list, I think there are quite a few on Sterling’s list that might surprise you. He suggests nuclear weapons have to go, as these days, they’re only really useful for terrorists. Internal combustion engine? Out. Prisons aren’t worthwhile, he says, when you can just monitor people wherever they are already. Others listed include manned spaceflight (bad for the body, little reason to bother), cosmetic implants (why not grow natural stuff instead of synthetic materials) and lie detectors (they don’t work). Finally, he says that DVDs are “collateral damage to consumers in the entertainment industry’s miserable, endless war of attrition with digital media.” He says that DVDs have the downsides of piracy without the upsides of free, simple distribution. As you can see, a lot these ideas are a bit optimistic about how things will move forward over the next few years. I think he’s overreacting a bit about the down sides to certain technologies. People are less interested in the downsides of the technology, than the potential benefits for themselves – and as such, most of these technologies aren’t going anywhere in the near future.

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Comments on “Do These Technologies Deserve To Die?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Amazing... I agree with almost every listed item

Several exceptions and “I beg to differ”s:

#1 the list is too short

#2 Internal combustion engine includes jets… duh.

#3 cosmetic implants will lead the way to elective phsylogical augmentation beyond the current eye-candy.

#4 Nuclear weapons. I got bad news for folks… MAD is going away and the taboo against actually using these devices will soon disappear. It’s an eventuality. We can either embrace the future, or be the fools standing around without them when the clock strikes high noon. In the future, the use nuclear weapons will no longer be a direct statement about our lack morality… it will be a necessity to lessons about morality (at least from our point of view).

Special Kudos to the following selections:

4. Incandescent Light Bulbs

Why these things still exists outside of specialized lighting applications such as growing pot is completely beyond me. Humans are sooo fscking stupid sometimes.

7. Prisons

While it might be constructive for the writer to actually meet some real life bad-ass motherfsckers who really don’t have a well developed sense of the whole wright and wroing thing, liberal use of the death penalty combined with just kicking hopless miscredants out of the country (plus the author’s observations) would go a long way getting rid of this country’s third teir welfare system. How ever hoplessly deluded this suggestion is, I would have to agree that this should be a goal. …and for the all the unemployed strong law and order types out there: Unicor; stay unemployed for long enough and this could very well end up being your new employer (and then you’ll know how Chinese disdents feel about assembling your kids christmas presents for free).

9. Lie Detectors

I have personal experience with these new-age devining rods. Completely useless. How do I know? It didn’t catch me lying and certaintly couldn’t tell when I told the truth. Very usefull if you need to “find” a scapegoat in the event that it is an absolutely necessity to actually strap a witch to a pole and burn her. I don’t know which is more useless, the device itself or the charlatans who maintain “gainful” employement/actuatlly believe in these devices.

10. DVDs

It must have taken some absolute balls to add this to the list. But I believe that DVDs will cause the eventual downfall/diversification of the Hollywood monopoly. Some history: the first companies to offer VCRs to the public en mass were disenfranchised Japanese electronic companies. Later, they ended up buying parts of the Hollywood machine primarily due to the success to their devices and despite the movie industry bitching and moaning about the doom and gloom cheap VCRs would bring.

westpac says:

wrong on several counts

If anyone thinks that nuclear weapons aren’t the epitome of Teddy Roosevelt’s big stick, they need to go study their history a little closer. Israel’s possession of nukes has kept Egypt and Syria in check for thirty years now simply because they know Israel will use their nuclear arsenal. Pakistan’s possession of nuclear warheads probably prevented another border rumble with India recently. India has far more to lose than Pakistan in an atomic war.

The nuke is the modern eqivalent of the “fleet in being.” In WW II Germany only possessed a few capital ships, but their mere existence pinned down the bulk of the Royal Navy for most of the war with the need to contain them. Outside of the destruction of HMS Hood the German battleships contributed little materially to the war except preventing the British from transferring forces to the Mediterranean and the far east.

Imagine if Iraq had nukes in 1990. Kuwait would still belong to Saddam Hussein because an invasion would have been out of the question. Saudi Arabia would never have allowed the US to use it’s territory as staging areas for the invasion with the prospect of Riyadh or Mecca being reduced to a glowing fog of atoms.

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