Let us talk about the Luddite problem…

This morning I woke up to an interview on the radio (yes, I still have a radio somehow) with pharmacists who try to fulfill prescriptions by mail. This is 2016. I can probably get almost all the chemical compounds necessary to create most drugs delivered to my home from China… but I need to go wait in line if I need penicillin. For the most part, we fulfill prescriptions the way we did in the 1970s.

Medicine is largely held back to the 1970s in general. I cannot help but to gasp at doctors who proudly display their stethoscope… straight out of the nineteenth century.

Sometimes, as is the case in schools, we put a veneer of novelty… For example, many school programs proudly include a tablet these days… Oh! Come on! Strapping on a tablet to an obsolete system is not going to modernize it.

My own school, up to a few months ago, had the following “online enrollment system”. You clicked and it gave you a PDF which you printed and sent by mail. That was “online” to them because (gulp!) the form was available as a PDF online. I can afford to mock my employer because they have since fixed this silly issue… while many other schools have not.

So, evidently, we are openly refusing to move in the future… And I think it draws on public opinion. If most people thought it ridiculous that a stethoscope is the state-of-the-art in 2016, most doctors would quickly upgrade, forced to do so by social pressure.

The reason doctors still have nineteenth-century stethoscopes is the same reason we keep lecturing… even if we know that a lecture is a highly inefficient pedagogical approach (barely better than nothing).

It is what people want, it is what people expect. Many people fear what is different, new… even if they won’t admit their fear. Or rather, they prefer to paint their fear as “caution”. (Because having doctors use anything but nineteenth-century stethoscopes would be incautious!)

Recently, we have made progress regarding gene editing. It is, of course, a potential cure for tragic genetic diseases. It is a potent tool against cancer… we can take immune cells, tweak them and reinject them… to fight off currently incurable cancers. It could also be part of a cure for the diseases of aging… tweak some of your cells and instead of being a weak 75-year-old who walks with a cane and can barely carry grocery bags… you can be a 75-year-old who is as strong as a 30-year-old and just as unlikely to fall…

Yet 68% of Americans and worried about gene editing. They are not excited, they are worried.

So what is going on?

There is widespread ignorance about science and technology. For example, we have people with computer chips in their head right now to alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms. Many of us have elderly family members with cochlear implants, but most people don’t understand that these are computers hooked up to people’s brain… Sex change is a common thing nowadays, some surgery and hormone therapy does the trick. You do not need a vagina or even a penis to procreate… we have had in vitro fertilization since the 1970s… it is quite common today. People don’t understand the evolution of agriculture, they know little about pesticides… They don’t bother learning about the issues, they just want reassuring labels.

But ignorance only explains so much of the fear…

There is also a very strong Luddite agenda backed by what I call “nature worship”.

There is a vast collection of religious nuts and nature worshipers who believe that human beings should not meddle in the order of things. That they have no right to do so… And if they do, bad things will happen.

It is surprising how many echoes of nature worship we find in the media. For example, in the latest Start Trek movie, one of the character finds some biological technology that allows him stop aging and to make himself stronger. Well, he is a vampire. So we are to believe that centuries from now, human beings will cross the chasm between stars in starships… but we will be biologically identical to what we are now. We won’t be stronger. We won’t have better endurance. We will still age and need glasses. We won’t run faster or punch harder. Soldiers on the battlefield will be like us but with “phasers” instead of guns. And if someone tries to enhance himself… well… he must be some kind of evil vampire, right?

Here is the truth: Nature is only plentiful after we harness it. Almost everything we eat today was heavily modified by human beings… from the meat to every single vegetable you can think of. It is “unnatural” to drink cow milk. It is “unnatural” to have vast fields of genetically modified wheat that we turn into bread. (Hint: none of you has eaten the original wheat unmodified by human intervention.) It is natural to die of infection before the age of 5. If you want to know “what nature intended”, then maybe it is a raving bunch of starving and infected human beings…

Human technologies are only “unnatural” if you choose to define it this way. In truth, human beings emerged out of natural selection. From the very beginnings, human beings rose above other species. We cook our food (that’s “unnatural”!) which allows us to gain a lot of calories from food we could barely subsist from in the past…

Still. It was a close one. Nature is brutal. We are the only surviving human species. All others were wiped out. We were nearly wiped out… we are all descendants of a few thousand survivors.

You can be quite certain that we only survived because we made the best out of our brain and technology.

I think that what is natural for human beings is to develop ever better technology to improve the condition of mankind. And, yes, this involves creating artificial blood, putting chips in people’s brain to keep them from shaking, editing their genes so that they don’t have to live in a bubble… finding ways to regrow limbs and reverse aging.

This is the very nature of human beings… spiders create silk… we create technology… When human beings decide to forgo technology, they are like birds who decide to forgo flight…

By forgoing technology, we forgo our very existance. Without technology we would not survive. It is part of us just like silk is part of the spider.

Even knowledgeable people who are not nature worshipers often oppose technology by default. These people adopt the precautionary principle. In effect, they say that new technologies expose us to untold danger… and that we should stick with the tested and true.

It sounds like a reasonable point of view… but it is also very dangerous even if it sounds “prudent”. Back in the 1960s, we underwent the “green revolution”. Before this technological revolution, there were very serious concerns that millions would soon starve. We simply did not have the technology to feed 6 or 7 billion people. Then we exposed rice, corn, wheat to radiation, creating mutant seeds… in effect, accelerating evolution. Today, all of us, including those who eat “organic food” are fed from these mutant seeds. To go back, you would need to first get rid of billion of people. Now… that wasn’t the first time we used “risky” technology to save millions. At the turn of the twentieth century, we adopted chemical fertilizers… without this, millions more would have died.

So the precautionary principle would have led to the death of millions of us. Not so prudent, eh?

In the near future, there will be 10 billion people on Earth, if we develop the technology to feed them… or untold numbers will starve. Deciding that the current technology is good enough may very well comdemn millions to death and starvation… Is it prudent?

Today, hundred of thousands of people a day die of age-related diseases. Finding a cure for these diseases would be as important, if not more, than the green revolution. It involves tinkering with our fundamental metabolism. It might require gene editing, stem-cell technologies, having computer chips embedded in our bodies…

Each time we push forward, some people feel that we are getting “less natural”. They think that, surely, there is a limit… Of course, there are limits, but holding back technology has a tremendous cost. If you say “oh… let us pass on gene editing… it sounds dangerous…”, then you are condemning millions to die and suffer.

But what about this limit that we will reach, where the Earth would disintegrate, maybe because there are too many people on it…?

It helps to have knowledge. There are more forests today in Europe than there were centuries ago. In fact, as farming becomes more efficient, we are able to relinquish more land to the wild. By artificially maintaining our productivity low (as with “organic agriculture”), we are stuck having to use all of the available land.

If not for immigration from poorer countries, most of the advanced countries (Europe, North America, Japan) would have falling population. If you are worried at all about overpopulation, then you need not to look at where technology is plentiful, but where it is lacking: in rural Africa…

If we could, somehow, double the life expectancy of human beings, in time the population of the advanced countries would resume their decline… because it is fecundity and not longevity that drives population.

But should you even be worried about overpopulation? That’s doubtful. Some of the richest places on Earth are also the most densely populated. People are not better off, healthier or smarter in the middle of nowhere.

And, though it is currently unfeasible, it seems clear that it is only a matter of time before we start populating space and the oceans. Our bodies cannot sustain life in space nor can we swim unaided at the bottom of the ocean, but our descendants will be better, stronger…

Technology is natural for human beings. Luddites are spiders refusing to use their silk.

20 thoughts on “Let us talk about the Luddite problem…”

  1. Again, I believe you are answering the wrong question. I actually don’t believe that the survey measures what you think it measures – or that the answers represent what you think the represent.

    By your response to my comments, you seem to place me as a defender of luddism. However, I am – by all measurable things, an embracer of technology and an enthusiastic early adopter. However, I am also a questioner. Not all technology is without potential for disastrous side effects. For example, my mother’s skepticism stopped her from taking a drug that would have stopped her awful morning sickness in 1961. That drug was Thalidomide.

    Now, that is just one example, while there are thousands of very effective drugs and remedies I agree. However, many more thousands have been rejected as unsafe or ineffective by trials and tests. We may have to consider expanding our tests for side effects somewhat further afield than we do at present. Thalidomide was not tested on pregnant women, although its primary use was for that exact group of people.

    No reasonable person would suggest we don’t use antibiotics to treat bacterial illness, however, the widespread overuse and release into the general environment has led to the rise of super-bacteria for which we have limited ability to combat.

    I would not suggest that GMOs be halted (in general), but I would respectfully suggest that the huge increases in the use of glyphosates permitted by the planting of “roundup ready” crops from Monsanto has caused a number of undesirable side effects that the industry spends a lot of money denying.

    The ubiquitous spread of small screens that can (and do) interrupt us at any moment with “information” mostly from people we would otherwise never have any communication or connection can give us extraordinary power and knowledge. I am sure the inventors of the WWW had no idea we would devote so much time and bandwidth to cats and porn. I am equally sure that we are collectively paying a health cost from causes as varied as sleep deprivation to the inability to focus and concentrate with so many stimuli and interruptions.

    I know that historically we have (for the most part) lost the ability to retain information compendiously ( bards of old memorising their cultural history stanza by stanza). In fact I have not memorised a new phone number in about 7 years. On the other hand, I have been able to summon any contact phone number in a matter of seconds anywhere and at any time.

    Energy is the lifeblood of the modern economy. The richest nations are those that burn the most energy. Without the constant consumption of massive amounts of it, our much loved society would crumble to dust. However, we are literally melting out planet – risking the flooding of a number of entire populations in some of the richest farmland on the planet.

    I love technology. I love the internet, and I rely on it hourly for my career and many hobbies. I do think that morals, ethics and side effects need to be considered both before and after the adoption of new technology. To put down people who ask such questions is a pathway to disaster – one which we have already well worn with our unquestioning adoption of the easier path. That some of these people question out of irrational conservatism should not deafen us to doubters as a whole. We need questions of both kinds – what CAN be done, and what SHOULD be done are both valid questions.

    1. The ubiquitous spread of small screens that can (and do) interrupt us at any moment (…)

      I do not own a smartphone… or any kind of portable phone…

      By your response to my comments, you seem to place me as a defender of luddism.

      I do not personalize debates, especially not on my blog. Not because I am a nice person but because it is a boring thing to do.

      For example, my mother’s skepticism stopped her from taking a drug that would have stopped her awful morning sickness in 1961. That drug was Thalidomide.

      Yes. And the first attempts at gene therapies lead to cancer. There are real risks to new technologies but the point of my post is that you have to weight them against the risk of doing nothing. Historical evidence is to the effect that had we stayed with 1850 technology, millions… billions… would be dead of starvation and infection…

      I would not suggest that GMOs be halted (in general), but I would respectfully suggest that the huge increases in the use of glyphosates permitted by the planting of “roundup ready” crops from Monsanto has caused a number of undesirable side effects that the industry spends a lot of money denying.

      … which you have to weight against the alternatives such as spraying fields (and neighboring habitats) with pesticides.

      Or, we could not use pesticide and starve billions… (only the richest would survive)

      Because people who oppose glyphosates are often silent about which pesticides they recommend and about why they are superior… Or maybe they think that we can magically do away with all pesticides.

      Energy is the lifeblood of the modern economy. The richest nations are those that burn the most energy. Without the constant consumption of massive amounts of it, our much loved society would crumble to dust. However, we are literally melting out planet – risking the flooding of a number of entire populations in some of the richest farmland on the planet.

      That’s not what is happening. It is theorized that carbon emissions minutely warm the Earth by a greenhouse effect *and* (this next step is very important) generate a feedback mechanism that leads to a lot of warming.

      Energy use is not the problem. Nor are we in any danger of running out of energy.

      To put down people who ask such questions is a pathway to disaster – one which we have already well worn with our unquestioning adoption of the easier path. That some of these people question out of irrational conservatism should not deafen us to doubters as a whole. We need questions of both kinds – what CAN be done, and what SHOULD be done are both valid questions.

      My blog is an ode to doubt. I urge people to question everything, all the time. But there is a difference between FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) in public discourse as a way to control the debate and set back science and technology… and deep questions.

      That we have a responsibility, not simply to test things as best we know how, but also to seriously entertain the doubts of others. To take them seriously and investigate them thoroughly. This is important not only for our safety as a species, but also the safety of science itself.

      So scientists have looked at the issue of GMO, quite in depth. They have turned the issues up and down, left and right. After decades, they have overwhelmingly concluded that it is the way forward. The benefits far outweigh the downsides. The arguments for GMOs are incontrovertible.

      But then, some people, without paying any attention whatsoever to the science and to the facts, working entirely out of political agendas, come in and try to derail all of it using FUD.

      The net result is that many poor countries have banned GMOs (Algeria, Madagascar, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Ecuador and so forth).

      People who employ FUD have no right to expect anything but scorn. It is a despicable public policy strategy akin to yelling fire in a crowd.

  2. I would like to point out that, based on my own experience, to true motivation of the neoluddites is the not the protection of the Nature, but the protection of their ego. Technologies are good if they develop them by themselves without the help of the government or a corporation. Anything else is suspect.

    However, you are wrong on many points. There is limits to technologies and scientific knowledge. Inevitably, there is a diminishing return, this is already apparent in many indicator. In a similar way, there is a limit how much human the Earth can support at certain level of resources consumption. This is unavoidable.

    1. There is limits to technologies and scientific knowledge.

      Yes. Physicists thought that they had worked out all of it at the end of the nineteenth century. Just some small details left over…

      Every generation thinks that it has come to the end of history. Every generation is wrong.

      In a similar way, there is a limit how much human the Earth can support at certain level of resources consumption. This is unavoidable.

      Serious scientists a century ago would have testified formally that the Earth cannot sustain more than 5 billion people. It is unknowable how many « people » the Earth could sustain… but that’s assuming we all want to remain on Earth… why would we want to do that?

  3. Further to my previous comment, I would add that perhaps we (the scientific intelligentia) have CAUSED the widespread anti-science skepticism we see in the world today. Perhaps it is our attitude, which people see as elitist arrogance towards the conservative among us. Our easy dismissal of concerns that people genuinely hold – whether out of ignorance or an abundance of caution, because we think we know better.

    It would only take a few instances of “scientists” dismissing questions, and a few instances of them being wrong or misguided, and that, coupled with the shameless exlpoitation of this by those with a political agenda to create an atmosphere of distrust of science or scientists.

    This suggests that scientists themselves should be the best doubters. That we have a responsibility, not simply to test things as best we know how, but also to seriously entertain the doubts of others. To take them seriously and investigate them thoroughly. This is important not only for our safety as a species, but also the safety of science itself. The internet itself has penetrated the ivory towers and it is a two-way conduit. The peasants can revolt without the need for torches and pitchforks. The end result of revolution is disastrous for both sides, but the causes all have one thing in common – an excess of hubris from the ruling class.

  4. This read like it was written by an anthropocentric robot stuck inside a “bubble” (a very limited frame of reference).

    Not every person can realize the full potential (emphasis on the word “potential”) of science and technology. Their own frames of reference don’t contain the “super-geeky” awareness of the full offering of technological progress.

    In fact, I would challenge that the majority of people don’t have that laser-focused frame of reference.

    Unless you’re an android Daniel, you probably are afraid of something. Especially “new” things that you don’t have the expertise or frame of reference to “absorb” into your life without that fear.

    You have this fear, just like every human being does, unless you’re an android or lack intelligence and rush headlong towards progress without thinking at all.

    I don’t think you’re an android, nor do I think you lack intelligence based on what I’ve read in your other writings.

    Just because every person doesn’t adopt technological progress at the pace you ascribe to … doesn’t make them a Luddite.

    Nor are they “responsible” for human suffering based on their resistance to technological progress in gene therapies or any other 21st century advance in medical technology. That was an absolutely ridiculous statement to make (and full of logical fallacies).

    It’s called being a human. Which I think you are, just like the rest of us. That comes with fears, faults, and other assorted traits.

    The “luddite problem” you describe here has many possible and connected explanations that you don’t even come close to addressing.

    There is a mistrust of science (which is warranted in a growing number of cases), the “anti-intellectualism” in America, and I would even challenge that our current political theater is distracting people from realizing the benefits of technological progress (to say the least).

    That, and the pace of technological progress is increasing, perhaps at a rate the average person can’t mentally (or physically) “catch up” with.

    To stop short, and call people (who have a lot more going on in their lives than tech or resisting it) Luddites … fails as an overall explanation.

    As for the bias toward nature … did you stop to think that because we came from “nature” we have a “hard-wired” inclination toward it?

    This was written by someone who:

    1. Hopes genetic advances CAN help humanity (all of it, not just the wealthy)…

    2. Hopes nanotechnology finally delivers on the promises presented for the last decade (which feel like hopium)…

    3. Hopes we can in fact use our technological advances to keep our climate in check (keeping in mind some “climate change” IS a natural process)…

    4. Hopes that any artificial general intelligence developed in the coming decades / centuries will in fact help us, and not hurt us.

    5. Hopes that we can overcome our hubris, and acknowledge the fact we are human (until we have the option not to be, as is the case for Transhumanism etc…)…

    6. Etc… while respecting the fact we live in the natural world that created us.

    So, personally I’m not a Luddite … but I fully acknowledge the science and technological “knowledge gaps” and the fact that various humans are dealing with those gaps in different ways.

    It’s this variety that makes the human experience great.

    1. Unless you’re an android Daniel, you probably are afraid of something. Especially “new” things that you don’t have the expertise or frame of reference to “absorb” into your life without that fear.

      I fear many things, but I also get over myself. I am afraid of needles, yet I give blood regularly.

      Not every person can realize the full potential (emphasis on the word “potential”) of science and technology. Their own frames of reference don’t contain the “super-geeky” awareness of the full offering of technological progress.

      I realize this… but if you want to take a stance on an issue, you should get some knowledge first. I see people reading the bible all the time. It is a boring thick book. I wish I saw as many people going through science papers about GMOs.

      Just because every person doesn’t adopt technological progress at the pace you ascribe to … doesn’t make them a Luddite.

      I don’t adopt technology particularly fast. For example, I do not own a smartphone.

      Nor are they “responsible” for human suffering based on their resistance to technological progress in gene therapies or any other 21st century advance in medical technology. That was an absolutely ridiculous statement to make (and full of logical fallacies).

      Responsability is a word I did not use. However, if you oppose gene therapy, stem cell research, electronic enhancement… you have to realize that you are committing people to unnecessary sickness and suffering… it is just like opposing research on antibiotics back in 1940.

      The “luddite problem” you describe here has many possible and connected explanations that you don’t even come close to addressing.

      No doubt.

      There is a mistrust of science (which is warranted in a growing number of cases), the “anti-intellectualism” in America, and I would even challenge that our current political theater is distracting people from realizing the benefits of technological progress (to say the least).

      I mistrust science. All the time. Especially the science I help produce.

      That, and the pace of technological progress is increasing, perhaps at a rate the average person can’t mentally (or physically) “catch up” with.

      I question this. The evidence is that few people are left behind. Even the aging islamist terrorists use Twitter.

      As for the bias toward nature … did you stop to think that because we came from “nature” we have a “hard-wired” inclination toward it?

      The “nature” people celebrate is an abstraction that never existed. Actual nature is rough and deadly. It is a place where you children die often. It is a place where you starve, get hurt, die.

      Hopes genetic advances CAN help humanity (all of it, not just the wealthy)…

      One misconception is that government regulations prevent inequalities. And if there are inequalities, we need more regulations.

      I submit to you that public resistance to technology force such technologies to move elsewhere… where only the rich can afford it.

      Medical tourism is growing. If cures for age-related diseases are developed despite public objections, these cures will be developed only for the billionaires. You think that Brin and Page (from Google) will happily grow old and frail knowing that simple gene therapies can keep their muscle strong? If the public object, what Brin and Page will do is receive these therapies in closed private clinic, possibly outside on some exotic island.

      If you want to have widely available cures for common diseases… then the public needs to embrace it.

      Freaking out at the thought that you might get a chip in your head… and trying to prevent it, does not mean that Bill Gates won’t get one… he will… it just makes sure that when you will need it, the government will object.

      If you care at all about technology, you want them to be developed in public for all to benefit.

      Hopes that any artificial general intelligence developed in the coming decades / centuries will in fact help us, and not hurt us.

      Best way to do that is keep it open.

  5. I want to add to my perhaps overly passionate response above (apologize for that, not personal)…

    I respect your writing Daniel, and in other posts you provoke, educate, and have a tremendous depth of knowledge.

    This one, for some reason, “lit a fire” that others didn’t. Thank you for that. 🙂

  6. Artificially resisting technology out of form of nostalgia is, as you point out, dangerous for its own reasons.

    It is of course a question of psychology. Rather than rationally considering counterfactuals, people gravitate towards a “positive” definition of causality and asymetric perception of cost.

    On whom does the cost fall? Not having edited some genome puts the blame for a potential dire outcome on “nature”, editing it puts the blame on the editor, even though in expectation editing was the right thing to do. The guilt attributed by “having touched it last” must be a big part of the explanation for “natural” movements.

    Action and inaction are not as equal as decision theory would have it. The utility function is not symmetric around zero. Note how it’s often the “haves” who are afraid of losing something who are more inclined to the more mystical versions of green thinking. Nostalgia, arguably the root of so many tensions in today’s society, could perhaps be defined as ruing the loss of what was over enjoying what came to be.

    The tech-geek class, having internalized statistical decision theory better than most, is perhaps mentally better equipped to make these more rational decisions. In the end, it’s a matter of educating all folks to be more rational. This is hard, because besides simple schooling in decision theory, it more importantly requires that we introspect, understand our own decision making, and uproot our most cherished (and adaptive, really) cognitive shortcuts.

  7. Fantastic article! It reminds me of Steven Pinker’s amazing book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined”. Pinker argues that our perceptions of the violence of the past as well as of the present do not follow the evidence. The book challenges many long held assumptions we tend to adhere to. I suspect that it takes a particular constitution for a person to present the kind of provocative ideas that both you and Steven Pinker put forth.

    And perhaps that’s where I could attempt to add a thought:

    I’m guessing Tomas is on to something as to the psychological underlying nuances of our “refusing to move into the future”. Carl Jung pointed out that our conscious ego, striving for stability and strength at all costs, is always trying to avoid the perceived weakness and loss of control inherent in any true psychological change, while it is precisely this same weakness that provides the necessary fertile ground for the change itself.

    I suspect there is a major historical shift at play in this whole topic: historically the predominant approach to personal stability and strength was related to the power of brute force whereas now ‘knowledge is power’. Yet the same underlying psychological need to achieve stability at all costs has remained essentially the same. I don’t believe that people are simply resistant to change, or inherently cling to the comfort of the familiar even if this risks the death of the host. I believe we are in fact responding to the same psychological forces as we have always done. However, now we have a world shaped by knowledge and technology, and it is in this new world that our conscious egos still pursue what we perceive to be power and ultimately stability. I would argue that we will need to square with this internal perception of strength and stability and embrace the potential weakness and loss of control inherit in the idea of change before we will be able to expand beyond our “widespread ignorance about science and technology.”

    On a less rambling note, I find your writings on the betterment of humanity through technological innovation singularly brave and inspiring. I believe you are doing something truly meaningful and generous. Much thanks and appreciation, and looking forward to more!

  8. While I agree with you on a fundamental level I have to wonder about the corporations that will own this technology and attempt to control it with patents. We’ve already seen who Monsanto harasses people…

  9. As with most techies, the ethical consideration of technology is out of the scope. But this is the central part. There is never a consensus, but yet. There are always pro and contra. There is the same science revelations behind nuclear electricity plants and behind the atomic bomb.

  10. I think science is wonderful and fine. This gives me goose bumps:
    https://youtu.be/KkpqA8yG9T4?t=6m0s
    (MIT breaking down barriers to build a reasonably sized “clean” Fushion Reactor)

    However, I think us humans have to overcome a few obstacles:
    1) we really don’t yet understand complex systems and second-order effects of technologies
    (yet we are confident that we understand these things or they are always positive)
    2) the relationship between science and industry /government has created skeptics (of people like me) who upon receiving the latest scientific discovery du jour ask myself “Why go through all the pain and effort of doing a study in the first place… since real science is hard… Did you really do science? or just set out to “publish something for the sake of your benefactors?”

    Garnier Laboratories Finding a cure for Alzheimers?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSNsOJ4-VwU

  11. I’m afraid of “gene editing” because the range of “human” living arrangements is a tiny fraction of the range of possible living arrangements, and certainly not the hardiest or most resilient fraction.

    Ten billion mindless constructor drones and three or four enormous, immobile agglomerated-intelligence brain bugs running them from nutrient pits in the disused remains of Washington and Beijing is a far safer and more efficient way of operating the post-human species than anything you or I might recognize, in much the same way that heroin is a more efficient means of entertainment than tennis.

    I don’t fear technology because it’s unnatural, I fear it precisely because it is natural, and nature holds us (our mores, our culture, our edifices) in no special regard. Some people seem to feel an almost sadomasochistic yearning to be overtaken and devoured by the Borg. Fine for them, but buddy, that ain’t me.

    1. Some people seem to feel an almost sadomasochistic yearning to be overtaken and devoured by the Borg. Fine for them, but buddy, that ain’t me.

      Says the man who uses the “Internet”.

  12. I have been accused of being a Luddite, but I don’t think that all technology is bad or good. I actually think it is totally necessary. What I resent with white-hot fury is the fact that so many new technologies are so damn hard to use/connect with. And I feel that Information Technology professionals are failing with respect to this. We have been at the technology game forever, and have put in enough time on the IT dominated track that I feel we should already know the pitfalls and be developing strategies for streamlining tech. adoption. It is for this reason, and also some financial ones, that I tend to be a very late adopter. My mom bought me a smart phone, if that gives you any idea…

    1. so many new technologies are so damn hard to use/connect with

      Everything is relative, but Google and Apple products wouldn’t be ubiquitous if they were unreasonably hard to use.

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