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Americans and the 21st Century

JonKatz posted more than 14 years ago | from the Optimism-Reigns:-Technology's-The-Reason dept.

Technology 212

In the past couple of decades, anti-technology has become something of a trendy national political movement, especially among journalists, politicians, academics and other intellectuals. But a new survey says the vast majority of Americans are profoundly optimistic about the next century, and technology is the reason why.

Technology has become the national conversation since the explosion of networked computing the Net and the Web; a central political and social issue, reality that splits the country into distinct camps: those who look forward to the future, and those who don't.

The subject has become so important that it increasingly plays a dominant role not only in how people feel about machines themselves, but about what lies ahead.

Americans used to be unequivocally upbeat about technology. "If you can dream it, you can do it," was one of Walt Disney's favorite exhortations to his beloved corps of Imagineers.

"When I visited the General Motors Futurama Exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair, I believed that I was truly looking at 'The World Of Tomorrow,'" wrote Samuel Florman, the engineer/author, in "The Existential Pleasures of Engineering."

Florman remembers believing that he was literally looking at the "World of Tomorrow" and that it was a better place. "It would have to be," he recalls, "with its superhighways, its sleek cars, and its sparkling cities."

Americans are vastly more sophisticated about technology now, wary and perhaps chastened by the tidal wave of new technologies and their often unforeseen consequences. Superhighways, sleek cars and sparkling cities all came to pass, but so did pollution, congestion, noise crime and enormous social dislocation.

Although the rise of computing suggests worries about technology is a relatively modern concern, it really isn't. Benjamin Franklin was a geek through and through, and he always understood that technology was a mixed blessing, bringing both triumphs and unpleasant surprises.

In more recent times, amateur technologists like Disney were sometimes drawn into Utopianism, convinced that technology alone held the key to a brighter tomorrow.

Judging by the moral outrage and near hysteria about technics in modern politics and media - cracking, Y2K, pornography, perversion, isolation, addiction - it might seem that Americans had completely abandoned the idea that technology could, in fact, herald a brighter future.

That assumption would be wrong.

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center on how Americans feel about the 21st Century shows they are profoundly optimistic about the future, and technology is the primary reason why.

According to Pew's nationwide survey, a staggering 81 per cent of adults are optimistic about what the 21st Century holds for them, and 70 per cent believe the country as a whole will do well. Eight in ten Americans describe themselves as hopeful about the year 2000. A significant majority anticipate that the new millenium will usher in the triumph of science and technology over some of humanity's most enduring plagues and problems, from AIDS and cancer to environmental degradation.

Americans' view of the promise of technology, in fact, is distinctly brighter than their feelings about their fellow human beings. Nearly two-thirds of Americans anticipate a serious terrorist attack on the United States within the next 50 years, and more than half say an epidemic worse than AIDS is likely. Significant numbers expect a major earthquake in California, foresee increased global warming and predict a severe energy crisis by the middle of the 21st century.

What's striking about the survey is that although Americans expect some problems to worsen, their overall outlook about the future remains optimistic. And technology is the reason. Americans believe that science and technology will expand their horizons, create a better future for them, provide longer lives, even allow routine space travel.

Americans, the survey demonstrates, are forming their own views of technology, apart from the moral outrage expressed by so many public figures about a host of techno-driven social plagues, and the cost, inefficiency, intrusiveness of technology in general. Perhaps as a result of their newfound ability to access information and opinions via the Net and Web, Americans are becoming more rational and far-sighted than their elected representatives.

Fewer than half of the respondents now believe a Messiah will return to the Earth in the 21st Century, for instance, but but 81 per cent believe cancer will be cured.

As Florman, a civil engineer, and other writers about technology have pointed out, anti-technology has become something of a national movement among the so-called intelligentsia in American life. Intellectuals often fear that new technologies - from the Internet to cable TV and cell phones - are dumbing down the young, isolating individuals and destroying traditional notions of civilization, literacy and culture.

Some of these attitudes arose during the 60s, when technology got the blame for creating nuclear weapons, napalm and other lethal killing devices, and for de-spoiling the environment. The explosive growth of the Internet - which has freed up so much information and endangers the privileged positions and monopoly over information formerly held by politicians, journalists, stockbrokers and academics - has generated even more unease about technology.

Lawyers worry that the public will access their own legal documents on the Web. Doctors fret about the sudden dissemination of medical information. Journalists worry about who will vouch for the accuracy of information, political scientists fear an anarchic electorate, which votes instantly and without knowledge or deliberation, and academics are traumatized by the notion that slobs in Kansas with computers and modems will get to pass their ideas around, too.

But technology is, in fact, an idea whose time has come. It's no longer the exclusive province of engineers, geeks and nerds either. The Net has brought tens of millions of Americans into very personal contact with technology as a powerful social and economic force and political tool. So far, at least, and despite its many problems and flaws, they like it.

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212 comments

Uhhhh...... (3)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490401)

Sorry, I disagree 180 degrees with that. The reason people are happy is because they have large disposable incomes, minivans and SUVs and 40" "digital" TVs with surround sound. It's simple but it's true - we are a society of capitalism and materialism. It is how we measure progress on both a macro (national) and micro (personal) level.

Technology has the lime light, I'll give you that. But it isn't the reason we're doing so well. Unfortunately what most people realize is that their quality of life is about to take another hit. Anyone remember the North American Free Trade Agreement? If so, you'll fully appreciate what the WTO means. The ability to override a member's legislative decisions and impinge on their own sovernety? In the name of WHAT?! Trade!

Simple truth: People vote with their wallets. What's going in Seattle right now is further proof of that. Thousands die in car crashes every day and not a peep but if we lose a couple dollars extra each year in taxes (or treaties): rioting in the streets! It's a oversimplification, I know.. but I'm running late for work so this will have to do.

Seattle Rioting Shows Some Skepticism (2)

Christopher B. Brown (1267) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490402)

It's not clear why all the activities are going on surrounding the WTO summit; some of it doubtless relates to more purely political concerns, but I suspect that of those that get arrested/"rubberized," there is likely to be some tendancy towards what this article would consider "Ludditism."

Ever stop and think... (2)

Jimhotep (29230) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490403)

Ever think about how fast technology progressed
after the US became a country?

Flintlocks to nuclear weapons in 169 years.

I'm not saying the US did this alone. Our nuclear
and space programs had some of the best minds
Europe could offer. Thanks to Hitler.

If we can keep it together, the next 100 years
should be just outstanding.

First p .... err, anyways (2)

Blue Neon Head (45388) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490405)

I think the optimism reflected in this survey is mostly a result of a booming economy. If we experience any sort of great collapse in the next few years, you can expect public attitudes about many things to change. And come on ... predicting an eventual earthquake in California is like predicting the sun will rise...

Technology has always been.... (1)

jyak (112533) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490406)

The scary part of technology is not where it is going or what is to come of it. It's actaully what is already available and developed, just not publicly known and is hidden behind corporations.

Technology throughout the ages (5)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490407)

You know, I bet the first time that guy (or gal, hey: female geeks exist) walked into a cavern carrying fire, there was a lot of controversy and debate.

The point is: even though a technology may be beneficial to humanity, there will always be opposition to it at first. It's not a modern phenomenon! The first time the English introduced the longbow during the Hundred Year War, the English knights were outraged that commoners would strike the first blow in battle. Then, as time goes on, they realise it's a really useful technology, and acceptance spreads.

Ditto with computers and most modern technologies. At first, we're all scared that the future will be ruled by robots or something like that. But now, society accepts and embraces the potential of modern technology.

It's never gonna change, and in a way it's a blessing. It's that sort of distrust of innovation that prevents us from using technology without thinking on its consequences. In that respect, scifi writers are our watchdogs, warning us long in advance of the risks, but also the rewards, of a possible innovation.

Popular Media and the Portrayal of Humanity (1)

viking099 (70446) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490408)

The popular media seems to feel that in order for
a good story to exist, there needs to be something that is more than human, larger than life. This extends to most forms of media, not just the news. Look at the Mitnik situation. does anyone think that Takedown is going to be as good as Sneakers?
Anyways, Technology is the only answer for the future. Think about it... In the past, high technology applied to steam engines.
The traditional media is also deathly afraid of becoming obsolete. With the advent of widespread acceptance of the internet and the benefits it provides, the newspapers and magazines, and (to a lesser extent) Television news sources can see their sinking into obscurity.

Fears of the Future (2)

Phule77 (70674) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490409)

Ick, I hate thinking up Titles.

Anyway. I think that a good bit of people's fears over the future come from what has been termed, time and again, as a growing awareness of how our technological capabilities have so far outpaced our own understanding and control of ourselves.

While technology, and our ability to shape, control, destroy, etc. our world has grown drastically in the last century, our own understanding of ourselves, how to predict how people will act, how to get people to actually act responsibly (unlike various flame wars, or efforts which cause the Geek test) haven't actually advanced credibly at all.

Often the metaphor is given of a child who, rather than holding a club to beat up other children with, now holds a clock filled with hollow point bullets and an infinite supply of clips...

This is obviously something of an alarmist, anti-tech view, that all tech leads to violence and destruction. But it's also a fairly well known paradigm (sorry) that people remember the bad stuff, no matter how much good stuff outnumbers it.

However, I believe that something which counters this is the American belief of Manifest Destiny, which, though no longer stated as much as a century ago, or even 30 years ago during the "Democracy will defeat Communism, for we are cooler" days, certainly seems to give most Americans the belief that they're righter, better, and more likely to survive, no matter how brightly they glow in the dark.

I mean, the fact that we have more porno sites on the net should be an indicator, if nothing else. Those California girls, whew...

*blinks*

Most of the biggish problems in our culture are tracable not to our technology, but rather the way we deal with it. Our tendecies to lie about ourselves on the net, our proclivity for using tech weapons to vent our anger (or not), our dependencies on tech to make us brighter, happier little smurflings...our belief that science will indeed save us and make us happier, becoming the new god of the times...

But then, all of this has been said before.

Money and technology (3)

sufi (39527) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490410)

People love money, and more than loving money they love to spend it on something bigger and better than the things their peers have. Rapidly evolving technology allows them to do this.

The content of TV doesnt make people happy, but the number of channels they have to choose from and the size of their TV does. Because it's probably more than the other people's.

Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, but community and society are degenerating at a similar rate. What good is one without the other.

Most people have no sense of self anymore, they only understand themselves in the context of how 'good' they are compared to the person standing either side of them. There is little value in personal wealth, values, and inherent personality. Only in what you can add to the the 'corporation'

It's a falacy, and one which too many people fall for.

:o(

Re:Ever stop and think... (2)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490411)

Flintlocks to nuclear weapons in 169 years.

[...]

If we can keep it together, the next 100 years should be just outstanding.

Yeah, I can just see it. From nuclear weapons to Death Stars!

Odd statistics and Economic Collapse (2)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490412)

First of all, I find it odd that such a large percentage of people are expecting the return of christ or a messiah of some kind when none of the end time signs in the bible have been fulfilled. Now if/when Russia invades Israel, THEN we can start looking for the apocalypse.

Second of all, the US economy is being artificially inflated and propped up by government intervention and the actions of a few large corporations and wealthy individuals. Our economy is due for a major downturn to relieve some of the pressure that has been driving it for the last 5 years. The government and the corporations don't understand that this would have been a good thing had it been allowed to happen naturally a few years ago, if it happens now it will be a minor disaster, and if they hold it off another two or three years it will make the Great Depression look like paradise. The federal reserve manipulates the interest rates to force economic growth, the stock market is full of over valued unprofitable stocks, and people are becoming disenchanted with the government. These are all signs of an economic collapse on the verge of occuring. I expect that the panic around Y2K when people start to pull their money from the stock market and the banks will spark this collapse and that the 3 years from 2000 to 2003 will be a lean time for the Tech industry as more people buy less gadgetry and are forced to concetrate more on paying their light bills and buying food. However after that Technology should rebound strongly and once again the economy will begin to rise.

All of this comes from my own research into the Stock Market and the US economy, I was going to be a business major until I got into tech.

Kintanon

AntiTech (1)

Psion (2244) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490413)

Anti-technology sentiments are hardly unique to the United States, or even Canada. The Europeans, for example, have caused quite a bit of trouble for genetically modified foods and plastic softeners. Much of this can be traced to organizations like Greenpeace, which seems to have taken a more extremist approach in recent years.

I think the average person in Western Culture is probably suspicious of individual technologies these days, and until something has been repeatedly shown to be "safe", it is in jeopardy of being scrutinized by one group or another and used as a scapegoat for one or more societal ills.

"Geeks" latch on to new technology almost without hesitation. We are attracted to the novel sensations of playing with new gizmos or new algorithms. The rest of the planet prefers to stay with what's comfortable or may even be openly hostile to it...and not always for legitimate reasons.

Technology tomorrow (1)

Masloki (41237) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490414)

First off, well done Jon.
It is true that many of us look optimistically toward the future and what technology may bring us next. At least I do. The question I ask now is "Why?" Our track record has not been stellar with technology. Cell phones are causing brain tumors. The more connected people are, the more the government wants to control it. And all the other technological advents have had negative consequences. Will we learn to look ahead to the next generation before we ship it out the door, or will we always wait for the clean-up crew to fix our mistakes?

Re:Uhhhh...... (5)

dbrutus (71639) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490415)

Sorry, but not everybody is into the materialistic lifestyle. I believe that capitalism is a great human invention that makes it possible to sidestep the constant neo-malthusian cries of doom, doooooom that that ring throughout western academia and punditry.

But materialism is not a necessary outflow of capitalism. I want to be able to assure good medical treatment if my family gets sick, I don't ever want to see my children hungry, but the 40" TV can stay in the store, thank you very much. Capitalism gives you the capacity to make the consequences of your moral choices be powerful. Materialism means that you are making stupid moral choices.

I'm a believer in free trade because I think that people produce more than they consume when they don't have governments stealing most of the product of their labor. In the real world this has been the case (go ahead, post a real world case where I'm wrong, I dare you). Don't you have any compassion for the poor? Don't you want to let them live in dignity by their own labor instead of getting 1st world handouts with condoms a higher priority than antibiotics?

NAFTA and the WTO have problems because of their slow pace, not because they are going too fast.

DB

techno-phobia amongst the arts grads (2)

Cally (10873) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490416)

This may be the way it is in the US (though with so many of you going to church, it's hard to believe it.) In the UK, IMHO, it's very different. Personally, I get more and more pissed off every day with the anti-science techno-phobe hysteria that has infected otherwise intelligent people. People `believe` in the most absurd nonsense (alien abductions, ESP, astrology ... oh & feng shui was the craze last year). Apparently intelligent, well-informed people have recently informed me that (a) AIDS and hepatitus may be warded off by positive thinking (b) most disease is 'all in the mind', anyway (c) electricity cables give you cancer (this was really bothering a friend who smokes 20 a day and lives next to dbusy main road ... sheesh)

Apart from that, which has always been with us, something new that's happened in the last ten years is that the Mad Scientist cliche has become a firm staple of public villainy. After BSE, mobile phones, thalidomide, PCBS etc etc (name your poison) people now seem to assume /by default/ that anyone involved in science of any sort is a malicious, evil capitalist plotting to enslave humanity & give us all cancer.

Environmental movements are the worst of the lot. We are about to see the biggest and quickest phase-change in the global climate for millenia, it's human-caused, and we can still stop or mitigate it's worst effects. ANd what do Greenpeace get upset about ? Sinking oilrigs in the Atlantic, event though (a) they are virtually free of pollution and (b) far from disrupting the local ecosystems, they actuall y benefit it enormously.

The idea of rational debate is a complete non-starter for these people.

GMO crops is another excellent example. There are legitimate things to debate about them, and further research is needed, but simply connecting the word 'genetic' with food is enough to make most of the drooling middle-classes freak out. And organic farming !! Do any of the morons who happily pay 20% more for their "organic" food in my local supermarket KNOW that it poisons land far faster than normal chemical-enhanced practices ? No of course not. They make me sick.

Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit smoking ;)


--

The WHOLE premise is wrong. This makes no sense. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490417)

In the past couple of decades, anti-technology has become something of a trendy national political movement, especially among journalists, politicians, academics and other intellectuals.

Huh?? Sez who?

It would be more accurate to say that sweeping generalizations and fuzzy, unverifiable statments which sound a lot like facts but actually have no verfiable content at all have become something of a trendy journalistic style in recent decades.

What on *Earth* is Katz talking about here?

Can somebody say "straw man" ?

Peole *love* technology and they always have. People have reservations about technology and they have always had reservations. It's quite proper to think carefullly about new inventions. To characterize this as "anti-technology" is stupid.

To harbor some kind of fantasy that there are people out there who are "anti-technology" is likewise stupid. There are no such people. There is a range of opinion about all kinds of technology, and we should consider people's opinions on their merits, and not brush them all off as either "anti-technology" or "pro-technology". This is dumb.

Come on, Katz. You can do a lot better than this.

Questionable conclusions (2)

Kaufmann (16976) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490418)

In general, I agree with Katz's analysis of why the intelligentzia's anti-technology stance is ultimately doomed. However, to make his point, he may be getting to wrong conclusions from the survey's results. As he says:

What's striking about the survey is that although Americans expect some problems to worsen, their overall outlook about the future remains optimistic.

Or maybe they just don't think much about the issue, and just get enthusiastic - rapidly sweeping into near-hysterical herd mentality - when both the good and the bad are brought up.

Here's how these pollings often go...

Q: Do you think technology will improve our lives?

(Subject very cheerful, thinking about all the great advances of the 20th century, presumably desiring to make "a good impression" on the poll)

A: Yes! The 21st century will be wonderful! With robots and flying cars and all.

Q: Do you think that {there'll be an epidemic|there'll be a terrorist attack|world hunger will agravate|the environment will go down the drain}?

(Subject suddenly starts to think about all the crappy things that happened in the past, goes into hysteria mode)

A: Yeah! I mean, the global warming... and the Muslims with the nukes... and those poor Ethiopians... and AIDS and Ebola... [et cetera, ad nauseam]

See my point?

Also, Katz displays an amazing amount of Americanocentrism. It's very strange that, times being what they are, a journalist discussing a theme of universal interest in an electronic medium with worldwide reach, takes as universal data that pertains only to about 4% of the world's population. This is a very strong and noticeable tendency in Katz's writing. So travel a bit, Jon.

I'd feel more secure about the 21st century (2)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490419)

If most Americans knew when it was. Sadly, we are doomed to a fate worse than death - continuous announcements by politicians and the media, heralding the year 2000 as the dawn of a new century and/or millenium.

In reality, it's neither. Dates count from 1, not 0.

Does this matter? Well, yes it does. Think of it this way. If people are willing to skimp on the most trivial, easy research, can you REALLY trust them to get their act together when it comes to something signficant?

Apparently not. The so-called Y2K "bug" has been known about since the 60's. It's only been in the last 3-4 years that anyone bothered to lift a finger over, and only after having it repeatedly drummed into them.

I would also question how much Americans (or anyone else) cares about technology. Be honest, here! If someone built a car that could do 200 miles to the gallon, would you buy it? Probably not. Gas is still so cheap in America, that nobody is going to care that such a car would help the environment, as well as posess some of the greatest technology invented.

Fact is, nobody really cares about technology, per se. It's their bank balance that matters.

Americans vs Information (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490420)

The Internet is a hive of information and mis-information. People tend to believe things written on the Internet without a scepticism that may occur in other mediums ("Johnny said blah... so it must be true").

As for Americans and information, the things I hear are either not true, or are worrying for Americans. Examples:

  • In certain states, they are not allowed to teach about evolution, but that the world exists due to God
  • In another state, they have appeased the religious fundamentalists by renaming 'evolution' to 'creationism'
  • I have seen many websites describing the evils of various television programs, e.g., teletubbies, pokemon
  • Apparently in certain states, the popular 'Harry Potter' series has been banned (in schools maybe?)
I could go on, but you get the point. There is a fear of information, whether it is true or not, and the Internet is therefore a medium for spreading just the kind of information they want to protect their citizens from.

I don't know about American law, but I believe you supposedly have a right to free speech, and have personal 'rights' (often without responsibility). In other countries, which I won't name, censorship is rife; governments filter out other countries' news sites (e.g., news.bbc.co.uk)? Why? They have a fear of information.

Another hot issue (as typified here on Slashdot) is privacy and encryption. Firstly, Americans seem totally paranoid that they are constantly being spied upon / monitored by the NSA / Echelon / government. If this is really true, then surely your government won't want you to have access to the information that technology and the so-called information highway brings. Another: the old export laws. You may have many high-tech start-ups at the moment (Silicon Valley springs to mind), but tell me why the rest of the world (who *are* online, believe it or not) will next century want to use crippled encryption products. I believe the export laws have been increased from 40 bits to 56 bits. If this is true, then that only shows what your spies are capable of easily breaking. Security is becoming a major issue these days in e-commerce and Internet transactions, and the consumer needs to be protected. If the encryption the rest of us use can be trivially broken, then why should we have to use it? The fact is ... we won't, for much longer. Already projects like OpenBSD are starting to be developed outside America, due to your governments restrictive laws. I hear that the Scandinavia area in Europe is recently becoming a hot-house for high-tech products, including encryption devices and telephony products. If America wants to retain its status as a forerunner in technology, then it will have to make up its mind whether it wants to isolate itself from the rest of the world, or if it will allow people in other countries the freedom it grants its own citizens.

Re:Uhhhh...... (1)

ballestra (118297) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490421)

Watching the news coverage of the WTO protests in Seattle last night, I heard someone say that the WTO was letting the goal of maximizing commerce outweigh all other considerations such as environmental protection, child labor, working conditions, etc. It reminded me of something from Bladerunner:

"Commerce... is our goal. More human than human our motto." -Dr. Eldon Tyrell

Re:Uhhhh...... (1)

jsm2 (89962) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490422)

I'm a believer in free trade because I think that people produce more than they consume when they don't have governments stealing most of the product of their labor.

If people are "producing more than they consume", then someone is stealing some of the product of their labour.

As Karl Marx pointed out.

jsm

Re:Money and technology (1)

Panamon777 (78286) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490423)

Take a look at what you're saying. There is little value in personal wealth, values, and inherent personality. What else is there in the world? Additionally, what do you mean when you say that community and society are degenerating? Technology has improved my communications skills, and opened up new communities for me - both online and IRL.

Additionally, I'd be perfectly happy if my TV suddenly only had 20 channels instead of 75. It's the shows that make me happy - the one that excite me, entertain me, or inform me. I couldn't care less about the rest of them.

Anti-tech and dumbing down (2)

rde (17364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490424)

Katz refers to the intelligentia as being anti-technology because of its effect of dumbing-down; this is doubtless true.
But it's also inevitable.
Literacy and eloquence are prized because, up to relatively recently, they were the only way you could advance yourself. Today, the ability to quote Obi-wan Kenobi is at least as likely to prove beneficial as the ability to quote Shakespeare. This isn't true in all cases of course; but the most popular web site aren't ones that cite the references to Plutarch in Julius Caesar.
The web is truly the medium of all media, with something for everyone. You may not like it, but it's possible to put together a hugely popular web site about Brad Pitt while being barely literate. It's possible to make a living off that web site if the ads on your site are effective.
America is dumbed down. The world will soon follow. But I've come to the conclusion that this isn't a bad thing; there are always poeple who will read and who will innovate and who will imagine. Those people will make it possible for the great unwashed to create, but using high-level creation tools (so to speak).

So why are people optimistic? Because however much people claim to have no interest in science, the rate of advancement is such that scarcely an issue of New Scientist comes out without the word 'breakthrough' in some story.
Most Americans know or know of someone who has had their life saved by technology. The see no reason that this rate of advance shouldn't go on indefinitely. Just don't mention the phrase 'gray goo' to them.

Technology as a Tool (3)

_J_ (30559) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490425)

Looking at this essay, Katz seems to divide people into two groups - those who think (Intelligencia) and the rest of the population (Average Joes) while leaving out the techies(technocrats?:). So overall the focus seems to be all the people who have contact with the technology but do not have intimate knowledge of it.

While I cannot necessarily explain why the Joes think the way they do, the Intelligencia have a perfectly normal reaction. They are used to being on top of their subject matter and believe they possess a clear understanding of how the universe works. Technology is something of a black box to most of them so that when someone uses it for "bad" purposes they blame the technology as much as the person. That is a perfectly normal reaction. I've seen many techies have similar reactions to the actions of politicos (or management for that matter).

Ultimately, I think that Politicos (and the intelligencia and management types) should learn more about technology, just as techies should learn more about politics and management. Understanding these different processes can only help all of us.

Ignorance is most dangerous in someone who thinks.

IMHO, of course
J:)

AIDS (1)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490426)

> humanity's most enduring plagues and problems, from AIDS ...

AIDS is hardly an "enduring plauge", it has only become a problem recently.

Last night I read an article on the next centry in Time Magazine where the author of "The Hot Zone" suggested that increasing population, especially in the tropics, coupled with increasing global mobility of people will bring out new diseases, and make AIDS seem like the opening battle in a viral war.

Sure Time Mag is dumbed down & the author is biased, but does that mean that they must be wrong? Maybe thay have a point.

Nitpicking (1)

Kinthelt (96845) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490427)

when technology got the blame for creating nuclear weapons, napalm and other lethal killing devices

I know I'm a bit off topic here, but napalm has been around for almost a thousand years. Except when it was made it was called "greek fire". A bit different, I know, but the same principle. Burning sticky stuff.

ted (1)

joshua_doesnt_know (17636) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490428)

Somtimes I think the unibomber was right... Well, accept for all that blowing up people part. This professor I had as a freshman had a paper he wrote on the the unibombers manifesto, though it related more to environmental issues. You could see the current wave of technology similar to the industrial revolution. Instead of threats to physical world, now we are affecting the social world. There will always be nay sayers and monkey wrenchers, but maybe this time we could look at consequence _before_ it happens.

_joshua_

I don't know. (4)

Amphigory (2375) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490429)

First, technology has never been the "exclusive province of geeks, nerds, and engineers". New technology has tended to congregate around those groups, but only for as long as the groups took to refine it to the point that others can use it.

Your definition of technology is too narrow. Why are computers technology, but an ox cart isn't? The obvious answer is that both are technology. One is a well understood, well developed, and frankly obsolete technology, and the other is a brand new, still immature technology.

Also, implied in your article is the expectation that technology will somehow lead to a "brave new world" where we all ain't gonna study war no war.

Permit me my cynicism.

The same thing was thought when the horse harness was invented in the first millenia AD: it was much more efficient than the traditional yoke, and I remember reading a quote from an early churchman who thought that this would mean the end of hunger. He went on to pontificate (maybe literally: I think he was a pope at some point) that the increased efficiency of agriculture would lead to a world free of hunger. Since hunger was in his opinion a primary cause of war, this technological advance was expected to lead to the celestial kingdom, where lion would lay with lamb etc.

I think my point is made: technology is not going to save us from ourselves.

B.F. Skinner, when he wasn't busy training butterflies to flutter or something, made the observation that any of the great classical philosophers (Plato, Aristotle) were still admitted as current in all our philosophical coursework. That, in 2500 years, the human state had changed so little that Plato could still speak to us, that Socrates was still current for many. Both Plato and Aristotle had been proved wrong (or at least incomplete) in science, but not in the study of humanity.

Skinner goes on to say that what is needed is a technology of the mind, which will form the nuclues of a new world order based in psychology. I can hardly agree with that: most attempts of this type have led to repression and misery.

What solution do I offer? None, or at least none you'll accept. But I do think we need to recognize the fruitlessness of all technology based approaches to societal and human problems.

Optimistic Majority (2)

sredding (107116) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490430)

After reading the survey report, I find the pessimists are much more interesting...

More than one-third of Americans say the U.S. will most likely be involved in a nuclear war within the next 50 years.

Nearly one-third believe an asteroid will hit the Earth within the next 50 years.

52% expect the average American will be hurt by the global economy.

53% do not expect the U.S. to remain the world's lone superpower.

67% believe that China will emerge as our global rival.

41% forsee a nuclear war. 37% think the U.S. will be involved in it.

69% say that the gap between rich and poor will widen.

59% say the crime rate will climb in the next 50 years.

60% see less affordable health care in the next 50 years.

52% anticipate less honesty from political leaders.

The future is so bright...

cheers,

Technophobes with too much time on their hands (2)

RayChuang (10181) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490431)

I think many of the anti-technologists are those who have a bit too much time on their hands.

Think about it: in 1899, women had to bear many more children than now, no thanks to much higher infant mortality rates and the fact the average person in the developed countries (e.g., Europe and the USA) would be lucky to be able to live to 50 years old.

The advances in medicine in the last 100 years has allowed people in the developed world to live at least 70 years or more. Dieseases that would have struck down people very quickly in the past are now treatable for the most part. Thanks to modern medicine, people with supposedly incurable diseases like cancer and AIDS actually now have a fighting chance to live quite a bit longer than previously thought possible.

Also, modern technology has drastically reduced the drudgery of housework. Think about it: today, you can keep the inside of your home and your possessions far cleaner than it was possible 100 years ago, thanks to vacuum cleaners, clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers, air filtration systems, and air conditioners.

Finally, what would our food supply situation be like without modern food storage technology? The development of modern canning methods, vacuum bottles, vacuum packaging and the use of plastic in storage materials has dramatically reduced food poisoning to the point that if there IS a food poisoning outbreak it's considered a very unusual event.

In short, too many people just don't understand if we go back 100 years, you'll actually find out that living conditions were appalling poor by our modern standards.

It's all about the Nano. (1)

Hogarth (98887) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490432)

I think that technology is OK stuff.

I think that all that the internet and disintermediating technologies have done is show us a more accurate representation of what kinds of people and what kinds of hatred and disgust exist in the world.

It's always existed -- hate and perversion and exploitation -- but it wasn't until recently that Technology allowed one to express that and cause change half-way across the world in a matter of moments.

I think a little Utopianism mindset about technology is OK -- We're looking at nanotechnology in reality these days -- no more poverty, no more homeless, no more starvation, no more squabbling over oil. And I think for very many of us, it will happen in our lifetime.

Hatred will still exist. Power will still exist. Perversion will still exist.

But we'll also have the power to affect change. And eventually, I believe, when hatred and perversion are simply not necessary to enjoy ones' life -- altruism will win, if we all want it to.

I think that enough of us do. Those who support freedom, and free speech, and care less about a paycheck and more about the possibilities of creation do.

Hogarth

Re:AntiTech (1)

U3mancer (27220) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490433)

"Geeks" latch on to new technology almost without hesitation. We are attracted to the novel sensations of playing with new gizmos or new algorithms.

Well the European geeks I know are more technology-critical than most american geeks. For us is no contradiction to be a technophile and to be critical.
A typical point are the genetically modified foods you mention. Many geeks here like good (=cooked, not engineered, from fresh ingredients) food. Some of them are quite good cooks - as many creative persons.

Re:Money and technology (2)

sufi (39527) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490434)

Hmm - and people insist on taking things absolutely literally too.

I'm sure you would be perfectly happy, millions wouldn't.

Technology has improved *your* communications skills, you are one of the blessed few that have access to good education and technology and chooses to use it in a constructive way, millions don't.

It's all to easy to take your stance on the world, and automatically assume that it is the same for everyone else. It isn't. Just like only the top (misnomer in itself) 3% of the western worlds population have an education past high school available to them, and even then only if you can afford it.

Step back a second, the world isn't rosy, and to answer your question, if you don't have personal wealth and values all there is is other peoples, and that isn't a very healthy situation to be in.

We are the lucky ones, and it's an american falacy to suppose it is available to everyone because it simply isn't.

Re:DUMBING down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490435)

"Fewer than half of the respondents now believe a Messiah will return to the Earth in the 21st Century, for instance..." am i supposed to be pleased with that statistic and say, 'gee we've come so far' or something? this should be ample proof that too many americans are already really dumb; we have a long way to go.

Journalist again (1)

BranMan (29917) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490436)

I can't help but sigh at Katz going off the deep end again. I do like his stuff, but he has that modern Journalist's disease - that whatever he is writing about is OH MY GOD the most vital, important, incredibly inciteful idea since the invention of fire. Jon, just calm down a little - this is nothing new, nothing glorious, nothing earth-shattering. Haven't you noticed by now that NOTHING turns out to be?



Anyway, the survey that prompted this sounds like more random crap - totally meaningless.

People expect a big earthquake in CA? DUH!

A big terrorist incident in the US sometime in the next ** 50 years **? DUH (Though, in 50 years we could have two more world wars, another regional one or two, and change every friggin' political boundary on the planet. Geez, C'mon - 50 years? Isn't that a little much? Terrorism itself could go the way of the Dodo in 50 years.)

People are hopeful in the US for 2000? DUH! We have single digit unemployment, the economy is going strong, a world economic meltdown was avoided, crime is down, drug use is down, violence is down. Gee, NO, I guess I'm depressed.

Katz, you should know better than to listen to the mindless prattle of surveys that ask things so moronic that a four-year old could predict the results.

Re:Technology throughout the ages (2)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490437)

"The first time the English introduced the longbow during the Hundred Year War, the English knights were outraged that commoners would strike the first blow in battle. Then, as time goes on, they realise it's a really useful technology, and acceptance spreads."

The acceptance was probably made easier because there were now fewer knights, and the armed commoners greatly outnumbered them. Not that anyone would argue with a properly armored knight.

Incidentally, the new "Timeline" book is a sci fi look at the past which also shows a little of how much we've forgotten. It's just a flying horse...move along, nothing to see here...

Not American, not optimistic. (2)

Gideon (10205) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490438)

>Significant numbers expect a major earthquake in >California, foresee increased global warming and >predict a severe energy crisis by the middle of >the 21st century.

So what are they doing about it?

There are two issues here; firstly that the US population are living an unsustainable lifestyle that is destroying the planet's ability to support life; and secondly, that what benefits the US may not benefit other countries.

It is generally agreed that the best way to stop global warming is to lower emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases; unless we do, we could see the end of the rainforests [newscientist.com]. Yet the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases is dragging its heels over constructive action because it would damage US industry.

The overall mean surface temperature is predicted to rise by 3 degrees C over the next century; this would mean an environmental preservation bill totalling trillions of dollars, not to mention the partial destruction of low-lying countries like Egypt and the Netherlands and cities like Manhattan.

If, as New Scientist [newscientist.com] reports this week, global warming 'turns off' the North Atlantic Drift, the mean temperatures in Europe are going to start resembling those in Siberia; which will mean the productivity and fertility of Europe will be badly hit. As a Briton, I'm not exactly thrilled by this possibility!

If the economy of a country is ruined by global warming, it seems only reasonable to press for compensation on the world stage; which means that the largest producers of greenhouse gases and consumers of energy will be making the largest payout.

Compare energy usage among the following five countries;

Electricity consumption per capita

US 13477 kWh
Japan 7523 kWh
France 6966 kWh
UK 5525 kWh
Russia 5397 kWh
(Source: CIA)

It should be pretty obvious that the US is producing rather more than its fair share of carbon dioxide. I'm not pretending that the US is the only overconsumer; but the US consumes a *lot* more than it should - and this isn't sustainable in the long term [dieoff.org]

>...their overall outlook about the future
>remains optimistic. And technology is the reason.

Technology can be used to provide incalculable benefits; true; the whole of humanity benefits from increased knowledge in fields like medicine and meteorology; but can technology save us from the faulty assumption that we can go on consuming ever-greater amounts of non-renewable natural resources in the hope that we will develop a technofix that will solve the problem.

Necessity is the mother of invention, but there are limits to what you can do. Our entire world runs on a base of non-renewable resources; and we have no workable plans to provide a substitute as yet. It is Panglossian to insist that there's a bright new future up ahead when we've consumed half of the world's estimated reserves of natural resources since World War I and have no real contingency plans in place.

I write this on a machine made from processed oil and silicon and metals; it runs using power generated from burning fossil fuels and the metals were dug out of the ground using fossil fuels. I'm one of the privileged few who can do this. But is it really justifiable to produce more and more computers and assorted gadgetry if we are using scarce resources [hubbertpeak.com] but aren't adding to the sum assets of humanity by doing so?

Is technology only to be used to bolster the lifestyle of the few who are already rich; or should the free exchange of information be made the platform for building a better life for everyone; a democratic, open and sustainable way of life?

Gideon Hallett

Re:I'd feel more secure about the 21st century (1)

sredding (107116) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490439)

Be honest, here! If someone built a car that could do 200 miles to the gallon, would you buy it? Probably not. Gas is still so cheap in America, that nobody is going to care that such a car would help the environment, as well as posess some of the greatest technology invented.

I find it interesting that gas prices caused a great reduction in the size and weight of cars in the late 70's and 80's. Then as gas prices lowered and the new technology allowed more fuel efficient and powerful engines, the cars have once again grown large.

Were it not for technology, I don't think we would have this rash of SUVs. Gawd, I hate those things. cheers sand

cheers,

Re:Not American, not optimistic. (1)

Steve B (42864) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490440)

If, as New Scientist reports this week, global warming 'turns off' the North Atlantic Drift

If it didn't turn off when the Vikings were able to grow crops in Greenland, why would a considerably smaller warming effect turn it off now?
/.

Re:Americans vs Information (2)

skelly (38870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490441)

Katz does have a tendancy to sometimes gloss over the information he uses. The Internet only makes this worse. However, don't get too worked up about encryption export laws or whether evolution is taught in schools in this country. People here have always been a mixture of paranoid and pious. It comes from a frontier mentality carried on by too many westerns on TV. Americans are good for screaming NIMBY, NINA, God/prayer in classrooms, No New Taxes, "there oughtta be a law", Serperate but Equal, Big Brother, and NRA-- Free Guns! A vocal minority always go extreme on issues and no two activists can agree on the same thing. Both can be tree huggers but one may be anti guns while the other is ProChoice. If things were really as bad it it is made out by the media, someone would have pulled a U-haul full of Kerosene and fertilizer to the capital. The schools are bad here, I do admit. Between fights over protect our children and God in school, 2/5 of all buildings need repair, most classrooms are over crowded, teachers are under trained or under paid. Teaching creationism and putting the 10 commandments isn't going to make little Johnny Rebel ready for Electrical Engineering or CompSci, but it does make him the most pious and the revivalist tractor pull. Here it is the lack of national standards in education that are to blame, but the US constitution left education up to the states. The Internet will not be a cure all for society's woes. Until everyone hads equal access to it and a decent education, things will be bad between rich and poor. Ever notice how some people are using religeon in schools to hide bad parenting, poor discipline, under unfunding and reckless youth? Religeon is the opiate of the masses. It helps the thief for you to cry wolf while he is steraling your sheep. Americans will always be a land of wanting government to fix things without raising their taxes or cutting off Monday Night Football.

There's good reason to be hopeful (1)

Merk (25521) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490442)

At least for a while the US will have a huge advantage in the world economy because of technology.

The Internet seems to be the focus of the greatest growth in the new worldwide economy. The US has a huge advantage in this new Internet economy.

First of all, the default language of communication across the world is currently english. The US gets a huge advantage here English is the default American language.

Secondly, the US was the birthplace of the Internet and still is a dominant force in the control of the Internet. Most registrars are US based, and NSI is still the main control point for registration -- and it's US based. Most task forces seem international, but US dominated.

Thirdly, the Internet is still very anarchic. The US is still one of the places in the world most free from government interference. The growth of the Internet, like most new technologies (from the printing press to the VCR) will at first be boosted by borderline legal and unwholesome (Porn, MP3...) uses.

But the US does have reasons to worry. Just as traditional companies have moved some operations overseas for cheaper labour, Internet-only companies might move much of their operations outside the borders. Certain countries have even friendlier laws and fewer taxes.

Education is the source of this phenomenon. (2)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490443)

In the past couple of decades, anti-technology has become something of a trendy national political movement, especially among journalists, politicians, academics and other intellectuals.
That's because it threatens them. "Any technology, no matter how primitive, is magic to those who don't understand it." - Florence Ambrose, Freefall [purrsia.com].

To a large extent this can be traced to our schools and universities. While it is almost impossible to get a 4-year degree without taking a number of literature classes, there are scores of college graduates who have not had a math class since high-school algebra. Chemistry? Get real. Physics? Forget it. These people have only the sketchiest understanding of how the gadgets that run their world - and on which they depend - actually work. What they do not understand, they are often helpless to affect. And they fear this.

Technophobic writing and demagoguery is usually full of examples of scientific cluelessness. To the extent that the audience for these things is no better informed, the errors go uncorrected or even multiply. We wind up with a situation of the blind leading the blind.

I am of the opinion that our schools and universities are largely responsible for this. A person should not be considered worthy of a high-school diploma if they have not mastered algebra and chemistry and biology. Science classwork should be a requirement for all degree programs in universities, including literature and arts. When the future of our society depends on being able to understand and manage these things, there is no excuse for our educational system allowing people to slip through without having a firm grasp of the fundamentals, at the very least.

This is especially true of the communications specialists, journalists and politicians. No PolySci grad should be able to get into the field without knowing *why* CFC's are bad (chemistry) and the reason we do not want to use antibiotics and antibacterials when not required (evolution). No journalism major should get out without knowing the difference between radioactivity and radiation, or a kilowatt and a kilowatt-hour. No person should graduate high school without knowing something about ROI and the unsustainability of Ponzi schemes (which is why we're having such a hard time reforming Social Security).

In a dumbing-down world, smartening up the populace isn't going to be easy. But we have to, because it's essential to our future.
--
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Not entirely True (4)

Rabbins (70965) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490444)

Well I certainly disagree.

You are not going to see a huge stock market collapse of any sort. Certainly, there are a few industry's that are way over-valued... and to my dismay, they are still climbing. But we are actually going through right now, what a lot of people call a Stealth Bear Market Sure the S & P 500, the Dow and the Nasdaq are at all time highs right now... but this is only because of a small, eclectic group of stocks have enjoyed an incredible bull market. In the meantime, a majority of the high flying blue chips have really been crashing. Buy breaking it down... leads to a suprising find, which I will illustrate for you:

For year 1999:

NYSE
61% of stocks have declined by 20% or more
34% have dropped by 30% or more

NASDAQ
83% of stocks have eroded by 20% or more
63% have declined in excess of 30%

This would seem to imply something very different from what the surface tells us.

I agree that there will be a time when many of the bubbles formed (these are bubbles, there is no arguing that) will burst. It happened in 1972... remember the "Nifty 50"? This group of stocks (mainly consisting of tech stocks) lead the market to incredible highs... but in 1972, their incredible valuations were finally realized and the market stagnated for an entire decade. Well, things really were not that bad... because the market is not composed entirely of tech in reality. While tech stocks floundered, other industries flourished and there was still a lot of money to be made. Lesson learned: Do not buy at crazy valuation levels. Lesson for now: Do not buy at crazy valuation levels.

So the market is not as high as you think it is.


Some valuations are what I would call artificially high as well. Many of the larger companies out there have gone WAY over-budget in becoming Y2K compliant (this does not merely involve preparing software and the like, but in prepearing people and services for whatever might happen). Well, this is an expense, and that figures into their profits. But, this is a true case of a one-time expense if I have ever seen it, and we will find many valuations come down to a more reasonable level.

Also, people are not going to stop putting money into company sponsered profit sharing plans, 401k's and 403b's. They might stop their fooling around on E-Trade however.

We may see a recession soon... I am sure we will see one in the future. But another depression? That is far more unlikely (though certainly possible).

If anyone wants some help in figuring some of this out... go ahead and email me.

Werd

Re:Anti-tech and dumbing down (1)

chickenhawk (24837) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490445)

I don't agree with you that America is dumed down at all. What are you comparing it to? The Renaissance? Victorian Brittan?

My take is that as each day more "stuff" (knowledge, news, stats, etc) is released into humanity and that the sheer amount of that "stuff" seems so overwelming that we can't help but think that since there's all this that one doesn't know, how can we be as smart as the Ancients? That's a bit too nostalgic for me. Most people in the renaissance were average Joes that didn't know much more than tiling their farmland or being a seamstress or what have you. Has this changed? I don't think it has.

Re:Technology throughout the ages (4)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490446)

An interesting addendum to the story of the longbow... After the English beat the French senseless at Poitiers, the French decided to implement the longbow as well. Unfortunately, they didn't consider the impact carefully: the English had founded new orders of chivalry to keep the nobles relatively happy, but the French did not.

The result was, when the French started using longbowmen, the noble knights got fed up at seeing commoners lead the battle, and cut through their ranks with swords and massacred their own archers. When they finished with the slaughter, they charged the English, only to be decimated in turn by the English arrows.

If you ever go to England, you'll notice that "The Finger" is given with two fingers, not one. This is attributed to the French archers, whose two fingers the English would cut to prevent them from firing a bow. The French would give the English these two fingers to show they still had them and could fire a bow. And thus the gesture caught on in England.

History is full of fascinating stuff. :)

Re:Uhhhh...... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490447)

If people are "producing more than they consume", then someone is stealing some of the product of their labour. As Karl Marx pointed out. Wrong. If people are producing more than they consume, then the surplus product of their labor goes somewhere. It could also be invested, with an eye to producing more, and being able to consume more, in the future. If I make $100 mowing lawns by hand (slow), I could spend the $100 on consumption. I can also spend only $90, save $10 a month and one day buy a lawn mower which will let me make $200 a month.

All well and good, except... (1)

ccchips (10392) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490448)

I suspect that around 80% of American adults can drive cars. I can't.

I'd feel a whole lot happier if the *shit* that passes for public transportation in this country had a little more effect on the minds and hearts of Americans, but I ain't holding my breath.

Then, there's the "real-estate" industry. People don't buy houses in this country for living quarters; they buy them to make a profit. When does that stop, and what happens when it does?

If some of this changed, maybe I'd feel a little better about the future.

Re:I'd feel more secure about the 21st century (2)

E-Rock (84950) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490449)

1st: 21 century, i couldn't agree more. Marketing has latched onto the completely wrong assumption that 1999-2000 is the change. Most people are sheep and I think that's a global problem.

2nd: 200 miles per gallon. It'd sell every last unit. We may pay a lot less for gasoline here than elsewhere in the world, but we don't think it's cheap. Instead of filling up my tank every 2 weeks, I'd only have to fill it up every 4-5 months. Even a 'tard could do the math on that one.

3rd: Bank balance. It's europe that hoards their money in banks, over here it gets spent and then most people spend some more. The world's economy is propped up on credit card debt. When it runs out, that's the collapse that'll crush us all.

Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490450)

It's "Luddism".

KATZ IS A WINDBAG! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490451)

Well, someone had to say it :)

As for something on-topic to prevent this from being moderated straight to hell, I think that Americans have a blindly optimistic view of technology because most Americans are too dumb to avoid that idea of utopianism from technology that good old Walt Disney got trapped in. Sure, tech makes people's lives better, but what the hell was so wrong with the way things went before this? (And before that, and before THAT, etc...) The truth is that new technology simply is meant to help people muddle through some problem that we caused anyway, only to possibly create more problems for new tech to solve.

Problem: Lots of broken glass, sharp metal, and hard concrete on the ground from our expanding society
Solution: Sneakers
New Problem: 10 year old kids in Asia are making sneakers for 10 cents a day.

Problem: Need portable communication
Solution: Cell phones
New Problem: Cell phones might cause brain cancer.
Extra Credit Problem: Phonebashing [phonebashing.com].

Problem: Businesses need machines to do calculations, generate reports, and play solitaire
Solution: The computer
New Problem: Y2K.
Extra Credit Problem: Microsoft.

It goes in cycles (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490452)

The ecological 60s/70s were anti-tech.
The Reagan 80s/Tech 90s were more pro-tech.
Probably each generation has to look at both
sides at least once in its cycle.

Re:Not American, not optimistic. (1)

ostiguy (63618) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490453)

The US may well have the highest use of energy per capita, but the most crucial fact is that we are the world's most efficient producers of "stuff" per kilowatt hr. Avoiding the entire discussion of whether we need stuff or not, I think it is clear that the global desire for more "stuff" is only going to increase. Thus, such environmental treaties as the Kyoto accord are incredibly harmful, as by limiting first world energy usage, production would be moved to higher polluting third world factories.

matt

Courtesy (2)

marx (113442) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490454)

Since the Internet is inherently global, I think you should assume that anyone visiting your website for example, can be of any nationality. Slashdot doesn't try to cater to everyone who visits, and I think this is good, but even if I'm not interested in some strange niche subject an article is about, it's possible that I would have been, or it's possible that I might become interested, maybe from reading the article. However, nationality is not the same as interest, and even if I wanted to become American, it's possible that I wouldn't be allowed to.

While I think it's reasonable that an article can be about America, I don't think it's reasonable that an article should be directed towards Americans, this is in a way discrimination. This article tries to answer the question "What will happen in the future, with all these strange technology trends going on?", in a sort of fuzzy, we-are-all-a-big-family way, but the domain of the question is only limited to America! Sure, the information is interesting, but these types of articles always leave me with the feeling that the well-being of Americans is more important to Slashdot than the well-being of other people, which is not a very nice feeling.

I think a good comparison is if you're having a conversation with a group of people, all normal, except one, who doesn't have any legs. Now, when you pick a topic of conversation, it's not very nice to talk about something which inherently excludes this individual, playing soccer for example. And even if you do talk about soccer, it's common courtesy to try to find some aspect which includes the one with no legs, talking about famous games for example, instead of how good it feels to actually play. While being of a different nationality is in no way a disability, the mechanics work in a similar way.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it would be nice if Slashdot (and all Americans), would consider that there exists people who are not American, but who are still as important as Americans. Jon Katz may not write this way intentionally, he seems to have worked as a writer concerned with fundamentally American human values, so this may just be his natural way of describing things, but sometimes I still find it slightly offensive. I would have appreciated at least a mention in the article about how technology might affect other countries, especially the very poor ones, and not just the note about American people being afraid of terrorist attacks.

Re:thanks for a new topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490455)

no hellmouth agreed, but waaaaay too much disney crap.

Re:Longbow - yesterdays winner, todays loser (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490456)

IIRC, England stuck with the longbow for too long and eventually lost France. The longbow was a MUCH more accurate/deadly weapon than early gunpowder weapons, but it took a lot of training, plus you had to expose yourself to use it.

..yes, "The Finger" in England is normally given with two fingers, but we both understand and use the single digit form. In England, the direction the hand is facing is important when giving the two finger form, if your palm faces the target then you are merely giving the Churchillian victory symbol.

Who started the practice of cutting off fingers in the Anglo French wars is also open to debate.

its not technology, its information "They" fear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490457)

More to the point, its lack of control over information "the Man" fears.

Many governments live in fear of
a) their "secrets" becoming public ("National Security"), and
b) anybody else being able to keep secrets from them (three letters, NSA)

The more narrow a religious groups beleif system is, the more they cannot tolerate discenting or differing views about faith. Screw the evolution/creationism debate; There's religious groups that want to ban the teaching of MATH(!!) because it (eventually) teaches that there are no absolutes; and no absolutes==no God(?!?) in their eyes. (and why do you think witchcraft==satanism to so many cristians.)

The weird thing is, this is true of us "enlightened" people too.

We extole the virtues of Open Source, demonizing anyone who dare disalow us to free and unhindered access to thier code/information, but we hold on to the ideal of our online privacy so stongly that any attempt by "the Man" (or "Corperate America") to glean the tiniest bit of our personal information is met with bitter resentment.

Yes, the more we track people, the more we can twist this information to a person's detriment. But used properly, a lot of this information can also be used to the benifit of society. It's all in the way it is used.

And personnally, as an athiest, I've caught myself automatically disregarding any oppinion, well founded or otherwise, simply because it came from a religious person. I've become so enthralled with the notion of "alternate" beliefs being (potentially) valid and worthwile, I disallow the "mainstream" that same consideration. (something I'm working on)

Marxian analysis is full of holes (1)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490458)

If people are "producing more than they consume", then someone is stealing some of the product of their labour.
... Or they're investing their work-product instead of consuming it.

Productivity isn't just an individual attribute, it also applies to machines and enterprises. For instance, a worker with a file can shape metal. Slowly. A worker with a lathe can shape metal many times faster. The owner of the lathe, the "capitalist" who invested in it, is responsible for some fraction of the increased production; it is not "stolen", it is rightfully the owner's.

On the enterprise level, metal precisely shaped to form objects nobody needs is worthless. The collective intelligence of the enterprise which can decide what metal to shape how to make which products determines the value of its output. This value rightfully accrues to the owners of the enterprise; because they made the value.

Just had to spend a few minutes picking Marx apart (Marx isn't worth any more, too easy a target).
--
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The Acceleration of Technology (1)

GSearle (40628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490459)

Has anybody noticed that the advancement of technology is accelerating? We invent tools not just toward the improvement of our lives, but toward the creation of more tools. The computer falls under both of these categories. As the computer becomes more powerful, and our research, design, and manufacturing processes evolve and become more potent, technological advancements come in larger leaps and in greater frequency.

Every year, computers become more embedded into this process, and we rely on them more and more to automate tasks and enhance capabilities. The overall process is essentially self-improving. As it gains power and knowledge, it can improve in greater leaps and bounds. We, along with our computers and our other tools, are driving this advancement.

Centuries ago, little planning was done on projects, because the technology was not available. A drawing of the final product was created by an artist, and then it was built by a contractor. Getting the item to work was a matter of trial and error and previous experience. Many projects were flawed or failed completely because they just couldn't work. (Programmers - does this sound familiar?)

We learned a lot from these mistakes, and modern science and design practices were created as a result to avoid the same mistakes in the future. It was a painful process that took centuries to get to its current state.

This century, a designer would draw up a plan on paper and create models from hand. All calculations behind this design were done with paper and pencil. The designer was fully familiar with the tools of math and physics available. Once the plan was complete, it was a rather simple process to put together the final product without surprises, and it worked. Mass-production of products in factories is a rather recent development.

Just within ust the past few decades, computers have drastically changed the design process. Corporate designers can now create a design with a CAD tool, send a command, and the machine builds a real, physical, sometimes even working, model. They don't need to know as much about physics, because the computer handles that data. They are free to create more complex and imaginitive designs with little worry about whether the design will work or not, because the computer can test this, too. Once the design is complete and tested, the factory is retooled, and it can be sent to the factory floor for mass production.

Imagine the day in the not-too-far future when we can ask an even more advanced system to give us something, and it pops out of a slot? We just tell the computer what we want the item to do and what it should look like. The computer would display a simulation of the item that we could test and modify. Once satisfied, it would go ahead and construct it.

As for the future -- prepare for a bumpy ride. This isn't going to be easy...

Re:Uhhhh...... (1)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490460)

If people are "producing more than they consume", then someone is stealing some of the product of their labour.

Bzzzzt. Such things as savings + investment on the one hand, and waste + disasters on the other hand have clearly never entered your mind.

As Karl Marx pointed out.

Hasn't Karl Marx been proven wrong so many times it's not even funny?

Kaa

Re:AntiTech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490461)

ahhh.
Yess.
Béarnaise anytime...

I beleive that the main thing about technology is that is is it's own solution, but never quite perfect. Always new problems emerge, which need to be solved, and always, the solution, itself inperfect, is the cause of the next iteration.

Anyhow, I think that technology is also the main cause of inequality: as the concepts used to progress become more and more advanced - General relativity in day-to-day engineering application - the advance itself is more and more onerous. Technology is therefore bound to make the powerful and wealthy even more so, for they are the only ones capable of endorsing it.

Still, I beleive that technology is the only thing which could save humanity now: someday, old Earth might become too crowded... (yes, I have been reading one too many sci-fi novels)

Re:techno-phobia amongst the arts grads (2)

technos (73414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490462)

It is never a good day to quit smoking, is it?

How do you draw the conclusion that we are due a huge, reversable climate change? At the moment, our best brains seem to be saying that the observed warming is due to the fact we're not quite out of the Ice age yet.

Anti-tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490463)

I suppose it's just because I've usually never noticed that which is irrational, but I've never really seen an "anti-technology" movement. Maybe I wasn't looking for it.

I have met only one or two people who were truly "anti-technology"-- they were Amish. Other than that, most the people I've met are opposed to the improper application of technology.

There *is* a difference, Jon.

For example, Mosaic 2000. In the hands of a competent psychologist, the tool might very well be valuable for helping determine a child's risk factor (maybe not, but let's assume it is). By saying that we shouldn't be giving this to every slack-jawed yokel that runs a podunk high school isn't an anti-technology stance. It's a stance advocating the *responsible* use of the technology.

Re:Not entirely True (2)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490464)

You are not going to see a huge stock market collapse of any sort. Certainly, there are a few industry's that are way over-valued... and to my dismay, they are still climbing. But we are actually going through right now, what a lot of people call a Stealth Bear Market Sure the S & P 500, the Dow and the Nasdaq are at all time highs right now... but this is only because of a small, eclectic group of stocks have enjoyed an incredible bull market. In the meantime, a majority of the high flying blue chips have really been crashing. Buy breaking it down... leads to a suprising find, which I will illustrate for you:



Not qoute the entire post, but I am responding to it all, not just the qouted part:

You are forgetting that one of the most powerful forces driving the economy is public opinion. It doesn't matter what the actual performance of the market is if you have 100 million people that think it's doing great and are dumping tons of money into stocks that are hopelessly over value dand due for a big downturn. When this happens the e-trade jockeys will be slapped with a reality check the likes of which they've never known, this will lead to a massive pull out of the stock market. A huge glut of people trying to sell off stocks with very few people buying them. This leads to those stocks being devalued further, fueling the panic. This will suppress the market and devalue related stocks in all industries across the board.

You have to realize that there is unprecedented number of clueless idiots investing in the market similar to the 1920s, only on a larger scale, when these people get burned on a massive scale it's going to cause a lot of problems. The paralels between 1929 and 1999 are pointing towards economic problems over the next 5 years. The fact that there hasn't REALLY been a major downturn in the market for almost 30 years is going to make it that much worse.

Kintanon

PS. Screw E-mail. A good discussion deserves to be seen by all! >:)

Re:Uhhhh...... (2)

Nyarly (104096) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490465)

While I agree insofar as materialism is the result of questionable moral choices, I've never felt that capitolism is an ideal means to manage scarce resources. And medicine is an excellent field in which to discuss this.

Antibiotics and HMOs. People are dying for the profits of others (kidney patients are more likely to stay on dialasis until they turn yellow and die than get a tranplant under HMOs. 20% more than not.) under a fairly well controlled capitolism.

Antibiotics are prescribed to patients who won't complete the cycle, breeding hardier germs. Anyone remember the TB upswing? And now, to push their products, dishsoap, "fresh" scent sprays, ever children's toys are being made antibacterial, which has the same effect, only moreso.

Which is not to mention the (I feel) natural push towards monopoly and the results that has for everyone. If nothing else, capitolism leads naturally to mediocre software. Compare Windows to Linux. One was produced by market pressure and voting with dollars. From the theory, you'd guess it was Linux.

I don't propone Socialism; people may be dumb, but a single person tends to be evil. I'd rather have herds of blind self-service than centralized enlightened self-service. I stil wonder about whether an alternative economic system would be possible...

Techno-idolatry (1)

jnd3 (116181) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490466)

All I've been hearing throughout the emergence of the so-called "information age" is how much technology will improve the lives of everyone around the world. Whether you worship at the Altar of the Internet or the Temple of the Dow Jones or the Congregation of the Cellular Phone or the Assembly of the Palm V, they're all just setting up another false god (or pantheon of false gods) to which you can pledge your devotion and worship.

But should these idols be the objects of our devotion as the supreme notion of truth, or should they merely aid us on our quest for Truth?

Many of those who are anti-technology are really only against the misuse of technology, and are opposed to the artificial exalted state to which technology and science are often lifted.

In the end, it all boils down to faith. The techno-optimists put their faith in science and technology. Others put their faith in human nature, or government, or socialism, or capitalism, or environmentalism, or any other -ism under the sun. Next time you jump to deride and condemn a Christian for their faith, stop and think about where you place your faith. And then challenge yourself to examine why they put their faith in the Creator instead of the created.

Great article (1)

Powers (118325) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490467)

Thanks, JonKatz. You've reflected in your article a point of view that I've held for a while, but seems to be in the minority.

It's long been my firm belief that the world is becoming a better place -- overall. I've never bought into any of the myraid "doom-and-gloom" scenarios presented my many people. Technology is, of course, no magic bullet, but it is an incredibly useful tool. Like any tool, it can be used for good or evil, but there are more than enough "good" people around to balance the "evil" being done.

One of the few things that makes me truly sad is that someday, I will die and no longer be able to witness the incredible progress of Homo sapiens.

Powers&8^]

A Healthy Fear of Technology. (2)

tigereye (116361) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490468)

Technology is really a double-edged sword in that can usually be deployed for both good and bad. Case in point the genetic engineering. On the good side it will probably be used to create new treatments for all sorts of, presently, uncurrable diseases. On the bad side it can be used to create or enhance new forms of viruses and bacteria for use in germ warfare. And of course there is a very large shade of varying grey between the two extremes.

I think having a healthy fear of technology is actually a positive thing. Because it makes you step back and look at what the technology is being devised for, its applications and the consequences of its use. More or less you have to come to respect it so that when it comes to humans actually using the technology then they are aware of the risks and can take proper steps to lessen them.

However fear based on ignorance, rumour, speculation or because it is politically correct to be afraid of a technology is definitly not a good thing.

Another case in point comes from the UK, where I live. A couple of months ago there was a huge knee gerk reaction to genetically modified food. The foundation for this was the confirmation that a professor's results that a particular strain of genetically modified tomato might cause a slight supression in the bodies immune system. (I am sighting this from what I remeber so may not be quite accurate). As this was a great story for the media to pick up on it allowed for the creation of a mass hysteria that all genetically modified food is evil and should be removed from the face of the Earth. Some of the results of this have been a large number of test crops of genetically modified food have been destroyed either from protestors, peer pressure from farmers. A common arguement being used is that the genetically modified substances could cause irreversible damage to the natural enviorment - hmm never mind the that we are constantly using mass tonnes of chemicals to make are food look good. Several large supermarket chains have removed all products with any G.M. ingredients in them. There is a barage of legislation being prepared against G.M. foods. This has not been contained to G.M. foods but really to any application of genetic engineering research within the UK. In short the progress of genetic research and its possible applications has been set back god knows how many years. Also it should be notied that any logically sound arguement for genetic engineering has to be shown as if it were the devils own words.

So in respect I think a respect for technology is a good thing. But unfounded or over-hyped paranoia against will usually result in a witch-hunt that will only set us back as a species when need to be moving forward.

Public optimism (1)

MDX-F1 (87940) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490469)

Interesting article. In the end though, I'm not all that surprised that most people are optimistic about technological advances. Yes, techno-bashing seems to be fashionable, but I think most of the griping is only skin deep. The vast majority of people, upon reflection, do realize that their lives are better/easier/longer/healthier due to science and technology. And I think they can also see that the trend will continue, and indeed accelerate, in the coming century.

The neo-Luddites don't worry me very much because technology has one insurmountable advantage over the alternatives: it works. I don't know many people who would go to a faith healer instead of a surgeon, or who use pencil and paper rather than computers. And that says it all really. People realize that the techno-genie is out of the bottle, and most wouldn't want to put it back even if they could.


Re:Uhhhh...... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490470)

Capitalism works almost as well in theory as communism does. But it's just a story. Free trade means that poorer countries have to cancel their environmental and worker safety laws and *compete* for who can offer the cheapest product. The cheapest product means the lowest wages, and people suffer.
You go tell that factory worker with work-related RSI that it's good that he's in a capitalist society because "capitalism gives you the capacity to make the consequences of your moral choices be powerful." Bullshit. If you can *afford* it, your moral choices are powerful, and the richer you are, the more powerful you are. We might as well just have a hereditary aristocracy, because that would at least be honest.


-Dave Turner, AC of convinience

Re:Longbow - yesterdays winner, todays loser (1)

Nyarly (104096) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490471)

As a more dramatic addition to the story of projectile weapons, the Pope outlawed crossbows.

My details here are sketchy, but my understanding was that because of the terrific power of the crossbow to puncture platemail. Which meant that a commoner could kill a knight. Couldn't tell you which pope though.

Re:Techno-idolatry (1)

Powers (118325) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490472)

An excellent point. I do indeed have faith in human nature. I can't really say I have faith in science and technology, for they are human endeavors. I have faith that humans will utilize the tools that are science and technology in productive ways that will improve our lot as a species.

Now, of course, comparing this kind of faith to faith in a Creator is specious. While there is plenty of evidence that human nature exists, there is no concrete, provable evidence that a Creator exists. The existence of the universe is not sufficient to prove the existence of a Creator.

That said, I do respect your point of view, although it is one I have heard several times before. Still, I had to respond to your insistence on making this a religious issue.

Powers&8^]

Re:Technology throughout the ages (1)

Hobbex (41473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490473)


But the single digit finger actually goes back a lot longer than that, giving the finger by desplaying the back of the hand with only the central finger erect was customary already during roman times. I can't be bothered to dig now, but I found a Roman moasaic with a clear picture of someone giving the finger on the web somewhere (yeah, somebody has researched this). It is most probably a phallic symbol.

-
We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.

Re:Ever stop and think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490474)

A Death Star is not necessarily a bad thing if you're in the pilots chair...

Worldwide perspective (1)

Mr_Ceebs (60709) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490475)

We should not look at the idea of technology as dumbing down the young. what we are in fact seeing is events rolling along as they always have done. as the individual ages a new generation emerges which has a different set of priorities. Have we been dumbed down because we use computers to work lathes rather than understand the precise way a spiral is formed whilst cutting metal rods. In some ways it could be argued that we have a much deeper knowledge of the way that the cutting operation is constructed.

There will always be people arguing for the pushing forwards of technology, and there will always be people who argue that it is going to far. we have to listen to both sides because sometimes the people who fear the new are right. after all if I said that I feared the possibility of universal servailance maid possible by computers and sattelites, I would not have people beating down my door and calling me a Luddite.

Re:Americans vs Information (2)

drox (18559) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490476)

However, don't get too worked up about encryption export laws or whether evolution is taught in schools in this country. People here have always been a mixture of paranoid and pious.

Don't get worked up? Whyever not? People have a NIMBY attitude, all the while the schools are in disrepair and failing miserably, racism is resurfacing in new guises, Big Brother uses heavy-handed tactics to "protect us from ourselves", and The Almighty Buck reigns supreme. 'Twas ever thus, sure, but that's no reason to be complacent. Hell yes I'll get worked up, because if no one does it'll never change.

True, things are still better here than in many other places, and it's not so bad yet that people are firebombing the congressional chambers... but that doesn't mean that things are just swell and we should thank our leaders for the fine job they've done. They have not done fine, and they need to be pushed to do better. Or get the hell out of office and turn the job over to someone who can.

Re:Marxian analysis is full of holes (2)

DanMilburn (120933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490477)

Productivity isn't just an individual attribute, it also applies to machines and enterprises.

This is the fundamental problem. If your only concern is productivity, then sure, this is the case. I and I suspect many other people happen to think that the worker is more than a mere creator of value, because they're human.

Re:Uhhhh...... (1)

jsm2 (89962) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490478)

Such things as savings + investment on the one hand, and waste + disasters on the other hand have clearly never entered your mind.

Yeah, that's right, in neither of my economics degrees did this enter my mind. However, as an empirical proposition, my statement stands up rather well. The world is not made up of people saving their own money and investing it in files and lawnmowers to increase their own production -- it's made up of workers, using capital owned by other people, and (implicitly) paying rent for the use of that capital to its owners.

Hasn't Karl Marx been proven wrong so many times it's not even funny?

Well no, as it happens (unless there is something funny about "none" that I have missed). Not his economic theories anyway (the political is another matter).

jsm

Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490479)

Oh yes, there is no turning back. However, when the full import of technology becomes apparent, there will be few options other than war. Genetic information will be used by insurance companies to avoid insuring people with "defective gene sets". Children will be bred like cattle so they will be perfect or superior. Anyone with experience breeding animals knows the tremendous risks when undesirable characteristics appear. Huge data bases with containing every personal detail will not enhance the quality of our lives.

Honest confession of a former "intellectual" (3)

MagusOceanus (61084) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490480)

Real reason for future-bashing as an artsy intellectual.

1. We generally grow up alienated from society and peers, they reject us when we have our heads stuffed in books planning our own private idea of utopia at odds with the life everyone else might want..."for their own good".

2. In college this attitude is rewarded and encouraged.

3. In the real world the Humanities degree, liberal arts, or philosphy not paired with any technology prowess means underpaid shit jobs in starbucks or art supply retail stores. The humilated indignance of being left behind having the brilliant mind and being left behind as a cheif with no Indians, to serve frappachinos to people that have read only a fraction of what you read but walk about like kings and drive nice sport utilities because they know computers...well, it's a major blow to the ego at every level.

4. It is only then that out of sheer vanity one considers oneself the champion of the working man left behind in todays world. Those left behind by technology. Forgotten labor and farmers that could care less for the stilted advocacy and would if they could rather give you a wedgie and fart cheese whiz into your face than listen to you; but you are the only one coming to help them and ineffectual help is still something not turned away easily. So as the intellectual you push the anti free-trade, technology, and progress issues that left these blue collar people behind and pat yourself on the back that as the people's poet you are a hero in your "other life" away from foaming milk or scooping fries.

5. You enter graduate school on a shoestring, write about how it's all still awful making it your doctoral thesis. Photograph some homeless people peeing if you are an art major in a stark industrail setting and work your way from graduate assistant to professorship.

6. As professor you encourage students just as alienated, arrogant, and theatrical as you are to do the same...thus the cycle continues ad-infinitum.

Nobody listens to such intellectual until the point to when there is a total breakdown of trust between average people and society that they can exploit to become a new establishment (that is seldom much better than the old one). It is easy to criticise another society, it is hard to engineer a new one that doesn't have just as many gaping holes and cracks to fall through.

I have abandoned intelligencia, I think the future will be good and bad, it will always be good and bad. People still have to help each other and try to minimize the number of people hurt by transitions in society but progress cannot and should not be curtailed in that endeavor because to do so is to impose on the personal and economic freedom of average people. I now paint like Norman Rockwell, listen to soulful house music, and refuse to read anything depressing.

Peace,
Johnny

PS-flames by intellectuals who have not come around to realizing this I have an answer for now so I won't have to post later...."I feel your pain" 'nuff said.

Re:Marxian analysis is full of holes (2)

jsm2 (89962) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490481)

A worker with a lathe can shape metal many times faster. The owner of the lathe, the "capitalist" who invested in it, is responsible for some fraction of the increased production; it is not "stolen", it is rightfully the owner's.

Capital is productive, but "ownership" is not a productive activity. The owner has not produced anything. "Stolen" is obviously a word which only makes sense in the context of a system of laws, but it seems clear to me that some of the value produced by the interaction of labour and capital has been legally expropriated by someone not involved in the production process.

It so happens that this is the best and fairest way to get goods produced, but we shouldn't let that trick us into saying things about production that aren't true.

A lot of people make this same mistake when they claim that the GPL is restrictive because "It restricts what you can do with your code". This only makes sense if you consider "declaring this code to be proprietary" to be "doing something with the code", which it isn't, not if you stop to think about it.

Marx's politics were full of holes. His economics is susceptible of full axiomatisation, and stands up mathematically. Which is certainly more than you can say for Austrian economics.

jsm

Re:Uhhhh...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490482)

Godd... >Unfortunately what most people realize is that >their quality of life is about to take another >hit. Yeah because idiots in the US and UK are going to cause riots and acts of civil disobedience, hand out razors to innocent people, fight police, damage public and private property, etc. all in the name of protesting against the WTO. From what I've seen the WTO seems to do less harm to people. >If so, you'll fully appreciate what the WTO >means. The ability to override a member's >legislative decisions and impinge on their own >sovernety? In the name of WHAT?! Trade! Did you see what the protesters have done? If so, you'll also fully appreciate what being a protester means. The ability to try and override the laws and regulations of a country and impinge on other peoples rights not to have their public property, private property and lives vandalized.

Signal 11 says something that makes sense?????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490483)

Be afraid, Slashdot.

Be AFRAID!

This could mean that the end is near.

This is the 3th of 7 Signs of the End. The 4th Sign will be when JON KATZ says something that makes sense. The 5th will be when meta-meta-meta-meta-meta-meta-moderation is introduced. The 6th will be when Bruce Perins begins posting FIRST POST!!!! and still gets moderated up for it. The 7th and final sign, marking at last the final end of the Age of Slashdot, will be when Anonymous Coward says something witty.

JON KATZ NAKED AND PETRIFIED (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490484)

LET'S SEE THAT

Human Adaptation (1)

infodragon (38608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490485)

Human adaptation is and will always be the down fall of the idea that technology will solve the social problem of hunger and most other social problems. When a new revolutionary technology is introduced at first there is doubt. This doubt stems from fear. A basic fear of change. When this fear subsides people will embrace the technology and will temporarily relieve the problem. The solution is temporary because humans adapt.

Imagine if a revolutionary widget is made that quadruples the amount of food that can be produced. Now another widget is invented which allows for proper distribution of this food. All of a sudden world hunger is not a problem. 40 years later... The worlds population is 20 billion and hunger is again a problem. The human population adapted to the increase of food and then you have a population boom. Now there is another problem and your resources for food production, mainly land, dwindles due to the fact that people are now living where food was once being produced. The next generation of widgets will be aimed at solving this new problem. When they become mainstream the problem will be temporarily gone until humans adapt again and the cycle is reborn.

Re:Techno-idolatry (1)

jnd3 (116181) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490486)

It is a religious issue. I'm hoping others might see it that way as well.

But I did want to leave one extra thing to consider, based on the response:

I have faith that humans will utilize the tools that are science and technology in productive ways that will improve our lot as a species.

Now, of course, comparing this kind of faith to faith in a Creator is specious. While there is plenty of evidence that human nature exists, there is no concrete, provable evidence that a Creator exists.


Human nature in what form? I view human nature as utterly prideful and selfish, and any hope that one might have that the better part of human nature will prevail is just wishful thinking. Likewise, I cannot see any basis to believe that humanity will use the fruits of technology in mostly beneficial ways. From my point of view, humanity cannot (on their own) escape their nature. Based on that assumption, I see no basis for faith in something so finite and tenuous. Faith can only be as good as the object of that faith. And one will arrive at that faith based on their assumptions and first principles about that object.

I did it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490487)

Me says:
Something witty.

Re:Uhhhh...... (2)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490488)

If people are "producing more than they consume", then someone is stealing some of the product of their labour.
Huh? It's easy to produce more than you consume under reasonable conditions. For example: beans, rice, and greens have almost all nutrients. In a rice-growing climate one family can grow many acres, much more than they need. So who's stealing?

They're just creating wealth. This is not a zero-sum game where one person must lose if another gains. You're not sharing your great-grandfather's log cabin with all of his descendants, are you? Wealth can be created.

Actually, here in Minnesota it's awkward getting enough water to grow rice. But I can grow a larger amount of beans and trade with someone in a rice-growing area who is doing the reverse. Or I can sell the extra beans here in exchange for the value token called "money" and send some an acceptable amount of the value token to the rice farmer in exchange for the rice.

OPEN THE SLASHDOT SOURCE!!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490489)

WHERE IS A RECENT VERSION OF THE SLASHDOT SOURCE CODE????

Re: techno-phobia amongst the arts grads (1)

EatAtJoes (102729) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490490)

"Rational debate." Hmm. Would that include calling people who aren't on board with your spoon-fed propaganda "morons"?

I suppose you would prefer that DDT remained in our food, that we removed all controls on emissions, that we allowed inconvenient species like Monarch butterflies and whooping cranes to go extinct. Or maybe you think, "Oh, THOSE environmental movements are fine, now just cut it out, there's a good chap."

A) Organic produce tastes better, dumbass. b) "Poisons the land?" I guess spraying petroleum-derived pesticides is "good" for the land (and the farmworkers as well). Go ahead and back up your proposterous claim that organic farming is somehow more harmful for the environment. This I gotta see.

The UK, and even more so, mainland Europe, has thankfully taken steps to oppose genetically modified crops, and with good reason. Sure they *might* benefit us. But the fact is that biotech companies like Monsanto are competing with each other at such a fever pitch, they are simply not going to take the time (which could take years) to measure the impact of a new organism on its ecosystem. It's simply not good business.

The fact is, corporate science prostitutes the best traditions of science in the name of the bottom line. Corporate scientists lie and manipulate results to make their CEOs happy. These are the evil scientists that deserve their image; the fact that it tarnishes all science is the unfortunate but inevitable result.

Oh brother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490491)

Not even close. The majority of the U.S. economic growth is caused by SMALL businesses, not major corporations.

Stick to "tech" (let me guess, you're getting a DeVry degree).

Stupid.

Hear me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490492)

Writing this letter stems from a desperation to be heard, if not by a court of law, then by a court of public opinion. To get right down to it, I find Mr. Jon Katz's failed attempts to cause the destruction of human ambition and joy mildly amusing. It is a grave injustice for him to produce a large number of totally stolid extravagancies, most contumelious indecencies, and, above all, the most impudent blasphemies against everything that I hold most sacred and most dear. This means, in particular, that he somehow forgot to tell his cronies that he is unable to use the English language effectively or correctly. I am being completely serious when I say that Katz can't possibly believe that laughable stool pigeons have dramatically lower incidences of cancer, heart attacks, heart disease, and many other illnesses than the rest of us. He's stupid, but he's not that stupid. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that he asserts that his dissertations epitomize wholesome family entertainment. That assertion is not only untrue, but a conscious lie. It troubles and amazes me to think that questionable statistics, pseudo-scientific studies, and biased reports promote, foster, and institute gnosticism.

Even Katz's lackeys couldn't deal with the full impact of Katz's undertakings. That's why they created "Katz-ism," which is just an obstreperous excuse to cater to the basest instincts of what I call sappy tax cheats. What conclusion should we draw from his communications? How about that it must be stated quite categorically that he seems to think that he is right and everybody else is wrong? It's not that I have anything against dweebs in general. It's just that a person who wants to get ahead should try to understand the long-range consequences of his/her biases. Katz has never had that faculty. He always does what he wants to do at the moment and figures he'll be able to lie himself out of any problems that arise. Some readers may doubt that he is snotty enough to lower our standard of living. So let me provide some evidence. But before I do, let me just say that he claims to have turned over a new leaf shortly after getting caught trying to take rights away from individuals on the basis of prejudice, myth, irrational belief, inaccurate information, and outright falsehood. This claim is an outright lie that is still being circulated by Katz's henchmen. The truth is that Katz is incapable of empathizing or identifying with others.

Listen carefully: If we don't soon tell him to stop what he's doing, he will proceed with his prodigal hypersensitive ebullitions, considerably emboldened by our lack of resistance. We will have tacitly given him our permission to do so. In light of my stance on this issue, Katz gets his cause-and-effect relationships all mixed up. You know what we'd have if everybody wanted to supplant national heroes with officious suborners of perjury? Total chaos. As a matter of policy, unbridled drug lords should not marginalize and eventually even outlaw responsible critics of fatuous manipulative litterbugs, but this has never stopped Katz. Until we address this issue, we will never move beyond it.

Re:Honest confession of a former "intellectual" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490493)

That post was awesome.

Re:Oh brother (2)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490494)

Oh brother (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on 11:31 AM December 1st, 1999 EST (#96)

Not even close. The majority of the U.S. economic growth is caused by SMALL businesses, not major corporations.

Stick to "tech" (let me guess, you're getting a DeVry degree).

Stupid.



Economic Growth is not the same as stock market growth, nor is it equal to the actual value of the goods and services produced. Just because you are fueling economic growth via small business does not mean that you control any portion of the economy. A staggering number of small businesses FAIL. But you don't see the economy burping on that, but if Proctor and Gambel went under the market would choke and the economy would falter. Growth is caused by a proliferation of small startups, recession is caused by the large 'power players' in the economy. And once the economy falters it is much harder to start a small business, which slows economic growth, which contributes to further recession.

Oh, and I'm not getting a degree at the moment, I'm working full time supporting 150+ users, so there.

Hi stupid, pleased to meet you, I'm Kintanon.

Re:techno-phobia amongst the arts grads (1)

Junks Jerzey (54586) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490495)

ANd what do Greenpeace get upset about ? Sinking oilrigs in the Atlantic, event though (a) they are virtually free of pollution and (b) far from disrupting the local ecosystems, they actuall y benefit it enormously.

Greenpeace has chosen it's own issues to deal with. Other non-profit groups have different concerns (e.g. The Nature Conservancy, ). And others are focused on Linux vs. Windows or software freedom.

Do any of the morons who happily pay 20% more for their "organic" food in my local supermarket KNOW that it poisons land far faster than normal chemical-enhanced practices ? No of course not. They make me sick.

You can't just pull nonsense out of the air like that and expect people to take it seriously. That's just anti-environmental FUD.

Katz should read the actual survey .... (2)

EatAtJoes (102729) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490496)

he'd find that:

1) Kids think they'll be worse off than their parents (55% vs. 38%)

2) A majority (42%) thought immigration would prove to be a "major threat" "to our country's future well-being" (38% saw it as a "minor threat")

3) The crime rate will be higher (68%)

4) The gap between rich and poor will grow (69%)

5) The global economy will hurt average americans (52% v. 43%)

Hmm ... (see the survey results [people-press.org] for yourself)

Organic farming (1)

Kaufmann (16976) | more than 14 years ago | (#1490497)

Go ahead and back up your proposterous claim that organic farming is somehow more harmful for the environment. This I gotta see.

http://www.scie nceagogo.com/news/19990109225423data_trunc_sys.sht ml [scienceagogo.com]

BTW, I am not the original poster. I do not have any sort of political agenda (actually, I do, but it's not related to this). I just thought you might like to get a little more informed before you go back to stuffing yourself with your beloved overpriced "natural" food. (By the way, how are the endemic species that were dislodged by your expansive and soil-consuming agricultural practices?)

Re:TINFP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490498)

Just wondering if you like to loose karma there buddy. Seems like you would have learned after the past few stories. We are slowly tightening our grip over your evil empire so to speak. Eventually this Castro will be taken down.

Re:Not entirely True (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490499)

You have to realize that there is unprecedented number of clueless idiots investing in the market similar to the 1920s, only on a larger scale, when these people get burned on a massive scale it's going to cause a lot of problems. This is a common point of view from people who think that they know what goes on in the markets. It is a little misguided for a couple of reasons. 1) If you look at the statistics, the big sellofs in the markets tend to be the professional traders. The small investors are much more in a buy and hold mentality, probably because most of their equity wealth is in retirement funds. Small investors hold, realizing that historically over a 5 or 10 year timeline, there is no better investment than equities. 2) Small investors are not borrowing to invest in the stock market in anywhere near the numbers that they were in the 20's. This means that they are not likely to lose more than their initial investment. In the 20's, people were buying items that they didn't understand with 10% down. They were then on the hook for 10 times their initial investment when it failed. 3) The egreigous cases of stock manipulation common in the 20's are not as common due to the regulatory influences of the SEC and the FASB. Now if we're going to discuss the clueless idiot day traders and people who believe in making money fast, then you may have a point. But theirs is a zero sum game, and they tend to lose money, leaving more money for the rest of us. We could also talk about the systematic instability caused by highly leveraged investments, such as the recent bailout of Long Term Capital Management. Which in reality was not so much a bailout of LTCM and their investors, but more a bailout of the banks who had lent money to LTCM. If there is hope, it lies in the proles.

Re:Not entirely True (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1490500)

You have to realize that there is unprecedented number of clueless idiots investing in the market similar to the 1920s, only on a larger scale, when these people get burned on a massive scale it's going to cause a lot of problems.

This is a common point of view from people who think that they know what goes on in the markets. It is a little misguided for a couple of reasons.

1) If you look at the statistics, the big sellofs in the markets tend to be the professional traders. The small investors are much more in a buy and hold mentality, probably because most of their equity wealth is in retirement funds. Small investors hold, realizing that historically over a 5 or 10 year timeline, there is no better investment than equities.

2) Small investors are not borrowing to invest in the stock market in anywhere near the numbers that they were in the 20's. This means that they are not likely to lose more than their initial investment. In the 20's, people were buying items that they didn't understand with 10% down. They were then on the hook for 10 times their initial investment when it failed.

3) The egreigous cases of stock manipulation common in the 20's are not as common due to the regulatory influences of the SEC and the FASB.

Now if we're going to discuss the clueless idiot day traders and people who believe in making money fast, then you may have a point. But theirs is a zero sum game, and they tend to lose money, leaving more money for the rest of us.

We could also talk about the systematic instability caused by highly leveraged investments, such as the recent bailout of Long Term Capital Management. Which in reality was not so much a bailout of LTCM and their investors, but more a bailout of the banks who had lent money to LTCM.

If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
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