Tea: Earl Grey, hot

Reading about all the fantastic new technology that’s likely to be avaliable in the coming decade always excites me. It seems to me, however, that the tech profets tend to underestimate the human capacity for inertia. “Valkyrie Ice”, surely a name that inspires visions of competence and scientific perspective, names “greed” as the primal human instinct that will carry us forward. If the new and promising technology will cut the middle man (men) as well as reducing the cost of materials and amount of invonvenience… well… what’s not to like?

So call me a pessimist but it seems to me that the one force that will keep the overwhelming power of human greed in check will be the human fear of the unknown. The primal fear of letting go of the set ways. Those people making the calls feel pretty comfy in their corner office and why should they risk what is prefectly profitable now in favor of a venture that basically means the demolition of every single assembly line on the face of the planet? (I do paint a dramatic picture don’t I?)

One could argue that established firms reluctant to embrace the new technology would get left behind as trailblazers explore the possibilities opening up to us. Also, the ability to grow new organs on demand would surely be such a boon to the human race that there’s no way we could choose not to explore this new avenue. Who would, in the end, choose to stand in the way of advances that means a healthier, richer, less complicated world? All the people with the ability to do so.

Where is the design for the energy efficient car? Why do we spend more money on cereal commercials than we do on stem cell research? And why oh why does the entire fucking world still revolve around the current avaliability of a smelly black substance?

All of it is held up in inertia. There’s a lot of people with some pretty effective tools working pretty damn hard at keeping things the way they are: with said people on top of the pile. Research and future prospects are not going to cut it. The ability to do something (and we probably could  make a car run on butterfiles if we wanted to) is not the same thing as it actually being done. I know we can grow ears on the back of a mouse, conjure images of the big bang and all that and that is great. It doesn’t, however, change the fact that the most radical technological advance of this decade has been the iPhone touchscreen. So don’t tell me that I’ll be printing my bacon at home by 2020.  If I can get a HP printer to scale my pictures right on a regular basis by then I’ll count myself lucky.

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One response

  1. The old agricultural land barons thought the same thing about the factories being made by the Industrial Revolution. They were very happy with their “established way of doing things.” I quite agree that the “corner office types” will quite happily try to keep everything exactly the same.

    Pity really that regardless of inertia, change still happens, and it’s not the Corner Office Guys who are making it happen, but that guy over in Taiwan he’s hired to make his products for him that he’s forcing to make products faster and cheaper so that he can keep charging the same price while pocketing more “profit” who’s innovating as fast as possible to meet demand. The COG is going to stay perfectly happy in his little glass walled cage until the bottom falls out, and then wonder what the hell happened.

    April 10, 2011 at 16:34

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