Do You Think Technology Has Destroyed Society?

08 January 2021 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

On March 29, 2009 I posted a blog about my “Internet Big Bang Theory” which included my “4th Big Bang– Distribution of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer in July 1995 with Windows 95” so I was not surprised by Wired.com’s story about a 1995 $1,000 bet that technology would destroy society when in “…1995, Amazon was less than a year old, Apple was in the doldrums, Microsoft had yet to launch Windows 95, and almost no one had a mobile phone.”  The January 5, 2021 article entitled “A 25-Year-Old Bet Comes Due: Has Tech Destroyed Society?” included these comments about the bet by a Wired cofounder:

ON MARCH 6, 1995, WIRED’s executive editor and resident techno-optimist Kevin Kelly went to the Greenwich Village apartment of the author Kirkpatrick Sale. Kelly had asked Sale for an interview. But he planned an ambush.

Kelly had just read an early copy of Sale’s upcoming book, called Rebels Against the Future. It told the story of the 19th-century Luddites, a movement of workers opposed to the machinery of the Industrial Revolution. Before their rebellion was squashed and their leaders hanged, they literally destroyed some of the mechanized looms that, they believed, reduced them to cogs in a dehumanizing engine of mass production.

Sale adored the Luddites. In early 1995, Amazon was less than a year old, Apple was in the doldrums, Microsoft had yet to launch Windows 95, and almost no one had a mobile phone. But Sale, who for years had been churning out books complaining about modernity and urging a return to a subsistence economy, felt that computer technology would make life worse for humans. Sale had even channeled the Luddites at a January event in New York City where he attacked an IBM PC with a 10-pound sledgehammer. It took him two blows to vanquish the object, after which he took a bow and sat down, deeply satisfied.

Interesting historical bet!

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