Bar Camp R D U Limits Of Technology

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Bar Camp R D U Limits Of Technology

  1. 1. The Limits of Technology: Lessons From The Luddites? Stephen Sellars ssellars at gmail dot com
  2. 2. Overview • A discussion around the limits of technology • The allure vs. the fear of the new • Analogies from the Industrial Revolution to today – the Luddites feared consequences of technology, not technology itself • How technology transforms/limits society
  3. 3. Sale: Rebels Against The Future “Necessity, it was the genius of the Industrial Revolution to understand, is not so much the mother of invention as of demand, and hence of consumption: establish needs, or merely the felt perception of needs, and you establish a market.” (Rebels p. 38)
  4. 4. Sale: Rebels Against The Future Quoted from Charles Cobb, and economist with the Society for a Human Economy: “Neo-Luddites do not propose to overcome subtle forms of enslavement to technology by physically smashing machinery….In contrast to the original Luddites, who focused on the particular effects of particular machines, the Neo-Luddites are concerned about the way in which dependence upon technology changes the character of an entire society….They are asking us to reflect on the entire configuration of modern technology instead of isolated pieces of it.” (Rebels p. 255)
  5. 5. Sale: Rebels Against The Future “Wendell Berry, the Kentucky essayist, has produced a list of criteria that would serve well as a guide: a new tool, he says, should be cheaper, smaller, and better than the one it replaces, use less energy (and that energy renewable), be repairable, come from a small, local shop, and ‘should not replace or disrupt anything good that already exists, and this includes family and community relationships’.” (Rebels p. 263)
  6. 6. Discussion Points “All technologies have consequences, inevitable and built in, and imperatives, just as inevitable, essentially separate from human dictates and desires.” (Rebels p. 28) and “A high-tech society is ever-changing and unsettled, always caught in that rush of improvement and innovation that generally goes by the name of ‘progress’, regardless of which direction it is hurtling in.” (Rebels p.213)
  7. 7. Questions • Too much of a good thing? • How does technology get in the way of solving the need? • Is the cost justified? • Can it be done without? • How long will it last - throwaway society? • Why does a tube amp sound better than a digital one? • What do you do at sea when your SATNAV/GPS dies?
  8. 8. Booch • The software development paradox – Not everything we want to build can be built – Not everything we want to build should be built – Building quality software that matters is fundamentally hard work – Software-intensive systems can amplify human intelligence, but they cannot replace human judgment – Software-intensive systems can fuse, coordinate, classify, and analyze information, but they cannot create knowledge
  9. 9. Examples • Paper manufacturer: the lure of filling the machines • Philippine call center: can’t see the forest for the application trees • Chemical manufacturer: building VOIP on CAT 3 cable • Canadian package hub: paradox of industrial engineering
  10. 10. Sources • Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War on the Industrial Revolution: Lessons for the Computer Age, by Kirkpatrick Sale – http://books.google.com/books?id=kNnmrkJFQ5cC&d q=rebels+against+the+future&printsec=frontcover&so urce=web&ots=OjwLoOrTYN&sig=1prwlrPll1uh- 2KYvZBzC5l82gg • Grady Booch: “What We Can And Cannot Do With Software” – http://www.sstc- online.org/proceedings/2002/SpkrPDFs/Special/Booc h.pdf

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