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RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Is it assumed that technology will always get better with time?

Asked by RedDeerGuy1 (16778points) July 9th, 2019

Is this a wrong assumption? Is the world’s goals to be better in every way over time? What would happen to our world view if It turns out that it is a false assumption?
Are we fighting an uphill battle? Is the golden age of computer growth over? Or will we have to wait for a new innovation?

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19 Answers

Zaku's avatar

It is a wrong assumption, especially with all-for-profit corporations designing the devices.

In the first place, insensitive unintelligent overuse of technology by all-for-profit industries is destroying the ability of our planet to support life as we know it. We’re driving other species to extinction, and we’ll also drive ourselves extinct unless we correct this.

Notice how you mentioned “the world’s goals to be better in every way”? Well, all-for-profit corporations and industry’s goals are not your goals – their goals are increasing their profits and power. And they don’t generally care at all about the species they are driving to extinction, which eventually leads to driving ourselves to extinction too.

Many corporate technology decisions are product-oriented and profit-oriented. e.g. what can they get people to pay for? Technology is often used as a way to get people to buy new versions of things they already have, but that seem new/improved/trendier than the versions they have. And many products are designed to break or otherwise become obsolete at the most efficient rate to maximize their profits.

For example, the absolutely pointless light-control-unit computer in my car, which broke down and costs $600+ to replace, but doesn’t exist in earlier models of cars because really it’s just an expensive new point of failure replacing what was just a switch and some wires before.

The whole tone of your question is an example of the mindset that has been cultivated in people where they are hungry for the next new technology just because an appetite has been conditioned for it.

Some technologies are great, but the ideas and practices around them are often highly problematic and/or designed to rake in more and more profits for the already-too-wealthy.

kritiper's avatar

I think it is assumed that technology will be able to do more in less bulk.

LostInParadise's avatar

The problem is not that the golden age of computer growth is over. The problem is that AI is growing at an accelerated pace. There are serious problems that we are facing that are unlike anything that happened in the past. How much control will we cede to computers? How many of our jobs are they going to take? Is privacy a thing of the past? And then there are the really serious problems of climate change, pollution and continued population growth. It all reminds me of the expression, Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

kritiper's avatar

Also, advanced technology doesn’t always mean that life will become better for humans/humanity. Just look what the influx of mobile phones has done to the dangers of driving automobiles.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Well…look around. Look at cars, phones, computers, lights….

kritiper's avatar

Like I said: ”...doesn’t always…”

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Well if it doesn’t it dies.

kritiper's avatar

Not always.

Zaku's avatar

He already did.

Mobile phones have various drawbacks.

In several other threads I’ve detailed several ways that the “modern features” of my 2001 car are notable problems compared to the lower-tech features of my 1987 car.

Computer features such as DRM (that as we saw in a thread in the past week or so, can mean denied access to your books), ridiculous amounts of daily “updates” that often break features, coaxing people into constant payments for “subscriptions” to “Software as a Service (SaaS)” for things like word processors and art programs, Microsoft Bob, Microsoft Clippy, Microsoft Dancer, face and license-plate recognition software being deployed to create giant Orwellian insane databases of where everyone has been, insurance companies compelling people to install monitoring devices in their cars, cars with computers in them which can be accessed by outside people with wifi and potentially used to override the car’s controls, the various potentially disastrous risks of deploying GMO crops, oil industry technologies that lead to terrible environmental distasters, pollution caused by various industries, global climate change caused by various industries leading to potential extinction of our own species, the overall “success” of our industrial way of life leading to a catastrophic rate of extinction of other species at what? 50–100 other species going extinct per day?

Dutchess_lll's avatar

But cell.phones are a ton better than they were in the 90s and getting more magic all the time.

Cars are safer and more efficient than cars were in the 80s.

Just because you may not like the changes soesnt mean they’re not better than they used to be.

Zaku's avatar

Unless it turns out that cell phones cause cancer.

I’ve explained why the car features that I have complained about are problems several times. They don’t happen to be about fuel efficiency or safety, but it’s certainly not efficient to produce needless high-tech gizmos that are far more complex and expensive than the previous features, but don’t work as well and/or break and need to to be expensively replaced.

Pointing to some positive features seems to me to be losing the point we were talking about: i.e. questioning the assumption that “that technology will always get better with time”, and your more recent challenge to “name one”.

ragingloli's avatar

Not always.
Take music cassette players for example.
Because the format is obsolete, the only few manufacturers that still make the machines, use a cheap and crappy mechanism.
If you want a good cassette player these days, you have no choice but to buy an old high-end one from decades ago.
The same with record players.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

^^^^ exactly. Same with 8 track and the old phonograph players.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Cell phones don’t cause cancer @Zaku.

Zaku's avatar

It’s not known, but is potentially the case (looks to me like it does probably increase risk), and so an example of a downside of a technology, which again is the topic of the thread. @Dutchess_lll.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

They do not cause cancer or brain damage.

Zaku's avatar

The article I linked above is just one example suggesting otherwise.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

The Guardian @Zaku? Really? Why not find an article in the National Enquirer?

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