Anti-tech silliness

From a long think piece in the AFR:

Decades from now, historians will likely look back on the beginning of the 21st century as a period when the smartest minds in the world’s richest country sank their talent, time and capital into a narrow band of human endeavour – digital technology.

Their efforts have given us frictionless access to media, information, consumer goods, and chauffeurs. But software has hardly remade the physical world. We were promised an industrial revolution. What we got was a revolution in consumer convenience.

… because consumer convenience is a bad thing.

 

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33 Responses to Anti-tech silliness

  1. It’s clear that the AFR doesn’t employ the smartest minds.

  2. RobK

    What we got was a revolution in consumer convenience.
    It is certainly not limited to that. Actually, consumer convenience is the by-product.

  3. RobK

    To the best of my understanding, digital technology started with frequency analysis and manipulation. The flood gates opened to spawn all manner of nono tech, the internet, gps etc.

  4. Young Freddy

    “Decades from now, historians will likely look back on the late 20th and early 21st centuries as a period when the smartest minds in the world’s richest countries sank their talent, time and capital into a narrow band of human endeavour – climate change alarmism.”

    There, fixed it.

  5. BoyfromTottenham

    Obviously the author of this shallow piece has never bothered to think beyond ‘consumers’ to how and where the consumer products are invented, designed and manufactured, and their raw materials mined and created.
    Industry is where ‘digital technology’ really hits the road. As an example, the mining industry is highly automated from start to finish (aka ‘pit to port’) using sophisticated software at every stage, including of course the thousands of automated trucks and drills currently in use.
    One example of the next generation of ‘digital technology’ is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) which is just starting to transform maintenance practices in many industries by remotely monitoring a wide range of complex machinery to detect deterioration in machine health far earlier than the traditional manual ‘routine maintenance’ methods that have been used almost universally for over a century. This is resulting in greatly improved safety, lower costs and higher efficiency in a wide range of industries including mining, energy, manufacturing, chemical and fertiliser, food processing to name a few. This is hardly a ‘narrow band of human endeavour’!

  6. Mother Lode

    The AFR?

    I would think their cartoonist department would complain that the opportunity was missed for all politicians named Trump to be nude.

    If Rowe’s drawings are anything to go by.

  7. mem

    Decades from now, historians will likely look back on the beginning of the 21st century as a period when the smartest minds in the world’s richest country sank their talent, time and capital into a narrow band of human endeavour –

    Trying to change the climate because they erroneously believed that CO2 was causing the planet to warm.

  8. old bloke

    Decades from now, historians will likely look back on the beginning of the 21st century as a period when the smartest minds in the world’s richest country sank their talent, time and capital into a narrow band of human endeavour – digital technology.

    What is he advocating? Should we go back to those 9600 bps analogue modems?

  9. Nob

    What Tottenham Boy said.

    I do think that much of the digital revolution has been speeding and rationalising existing mechanical processes rather than developing new mechanical devices.

    This has led to a public perception that big change, like suddenly switching off use of hydrocarbons. would be easy and painless.

  10. RobK

    Digital technology is inseparable from nanotechnology. You cant have one without the other. It represents the greatest disruption since the industrial revolution and will shape our civilisation more than any physical endeavour we have stumbled upon to now. The AFR piece is appalling.

  11. duncanm

    Nob
    #3336472, posted on February 27, 2020 at 11:09 am
    What Tottenham Boy said.

    ++

    This numpty has no idea of the revolutions in manufacturing (CNC, automation, robotics, process control, monitoring etc. etc. ), communications (3G/4G/5G is just faster AM, innit ?), construction, transportation safety and efficiency through better modelling and analysis, medicine (development, manufacturing, delivery) .. the list is endless.

    Every single thing this guy touches and consumes in his daily life has been improved through digital technology and software.

    I presume its this guy: Derek Thompson. For someone who wrote about “the meaning of work and automation’s threat to the labor force” he really seems to be hedging his bets.

  12. duncanm

    .., well this explains it. No technology background apart from writing about it.

    Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine and a weekly news analyst for NPR’s “Here and Now.” He was born in McLean, Va., in 1986, and he graduated from Northwestern University, in 2008, with a triple major in journalism, political science, and legal studies

    The perfect science and technology minister for a future government.

  13. duncanm

    Article can be read in its entirety at the Atlantic

  14. nb

    Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine and a weekly news analyst for NPR’s “Here and Now.” He was born in McLean, Va., in 1986, and he graduated from Northwestern University, in 2008, with a triple major in journalism, political science, and legal studies.
    ‘legal studies’ = law according to Marx, or some other oxymoron.

  15. RobK

    I agree with Nob. Particularly: “ This has led to a public perception that big change, like suddenly switching off use of hydrocarbons. would be easy and painless.”
    However, digital technology has enabled incredible precision and control at throw-away prices. In the eighties I did shotfiring for a cross-hole tomographic seismic survey on a nickel deposit. Boxes and boxes of digitizers were involved. The analysis took months. It was a breakthrough in data acquisition at the time, crude by today’s standards.

  16. TBH

    I was going to go off on a long rant about the idiocy of those quotes above, but BfT already said it for me.

    The advances in industrial process control, automation, Industry 4.0 etc have been enormous in the last 20 years. I work in this field and the analysis in that article is ludicrous.

  17. Buccaneer

    I bet he drives a Tesla and can’t see the irony. Perhaps we could find an old Aeroflot jet with valve technology for him to fly in… by autopilot..

  18. Rohan

    Their efforts have given us frictionless access to media, information, consumer goods, and chauffeurs.

    So I think this is the main thrust of his article. His chosen career is under threat from everything being online. “They’re taking our jerbs!”

    https://youtu.be/toL1tXrLA1c

  19. Leo G

    Apart from all the acronyms, what has digital technology ever done for us?

  20. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Industry is where ‘digital technology’ really hits the road.

    In ALL industry. Try tourism, medicine and health, education, marketing, transport, supply chains, publishing etc. You name it, it’s computerized or computerizing. Convenience is a factor in service areas, but it is not the only place where convenience wins. Just In Time warehousing cuts expenses for example. Lowering costs is most often the driver. To simply put it all into the ‘consumption’ box is facile. It is a genuine change in the mode of production as well as the mode of consumption.

  21. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Reading upthread, I see the Cats are onto it.

    A great blog, and thanks for it, Sinclair. 😀

  22. mem

    Apart from all the acronyms, what has digital technology ever done for us?

    I’ll write you a letter and send it by post

  23. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Steve Cates was ruminating on another thread about the change that can come from left field and change things – with regard to whether Trump will have an easy win, or lose because of Corona virus impacts.

    Another change from left field would be a major electronic failure – a pulse that knocked out all computers. Like a rampant killer virus, this is already the stuff of sci fi writers. Human life on earth seems secure but is always rather tenuous if you think about it. Asteroid, anyone?

  24. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Or something else? I believe they are called ‘unknown unknowns’. 🙂

  25. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    As in, God was very angry that day. 🙂

  26. Professor Fred Lenin

    Yound freddy , the psychiatrists of the day will write learned tomes of the climate insanity that swept the West but never gaines acceptance elsewhere . The rentseekers descendants will still have the billions their forebears stole from the demented Gaia cult victims . That sounds a likely scenario. No one will suffer punishment for their willfull criminal actions .

  27. Leo G

    I’ll write you a letter and send it by post

    Post Office Protocol?

  28. Alex Davidson

    We are living through a period of unprecedented growth in government, accompanied by unprecedented levels of control and regulation over citizen’s activities. That is a far more likely explanation for the reduced productivity that the author sees.

    Sure, one could argue that this expansion of government has been helped along by technological improvements, but blaming Silicon Valley for that is like blaming the gun rather than the shooter.

    Also much of the claimed monopolistic behaviour engaged in by tech giants is only made possible through vigorous enforcement of government-created-and-enforced protection from competition, supposedly to encourage innovation. Clearly that’s not working as intended.

  29. Davey Boy

    Whenever I see articles like this AFR one I immediately think of the third catechism

  30. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    “They’re taking our jerbs!”

    It’s amusing how often that video has been posted here on a multitude of threads about various topics.

    One of the most profound breakthroughs in all purpose pisstaking.

  31. Another change from left field would be a major electronic failure – a pulse that knocked out all computers.

    All of a sudden people would have to learn to talk to each other rather than texting and twitting.

  32. Squirrel

    “…a period when the smartest minds in the world’s richest country sank their talent, time and capital into a narrow band of human endeavour – digital technology.”

    Even allowing for (claimed) theft of intellectualy property, there is genuine ground for concern about misplaced priorities when we find that the best (apparently) 5G technology has been developed in a dictatorship.

    The enabling and monetization of vacuous, self-absorbed, self-indulgent behaviour would be much less of a concern if the masters of the universe in Silicon Valley had kept the free world in the lead in areas of technology which really matter.

  33. Kneel

    “Even allowing for (claimed) theft of intellectualy property, there is genuine ground for concern about misplaced priorities when we find that the best (apparently) 5G technology has been developed in a dictatorship. “

    It can well be argued that China “forced” tech transfer and that Huawai benefited from it – why not, it’s true.
    Most of this is not widely reported:
    Huawai licenses a lot of patents on 5G tech free of charge to anyone.
    Every Huawai employee is also a Huawai stockholder.
    Huawai spends double what Sierra Wireless spends on R&D.
    Huawai is prepared to sign saying they did not introduce any spy tech (hard or soft) into what they deliver, they only supplied what the customer asked for, and are happy for an independent audit to prove it – no USA supplier will sign with such a condition.

    I have personally had dealings with Huawai 3G and 4G tech, including their tech support for product developers, and have found both products and support second to none. Huawai doesn’t need US tech, US Tech needs Huawai!

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