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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  1. identicon
    westpac, 30 Sep 2003 @ 6:44am

    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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