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Re: Rethink Required
mcsruff   9/25/2013 10:28:19 PM
You have demonstrated my point by referring to Australia. The recently-ousted socialist government there often thought that they knew better than the free-market economy and the results were devastating (including an attempt by that government to shut down the free-press). Thankfully, the vast majority of the freedom-loving Australian people opposed the attempts of social-engineering politicians & bureaucrats and threw that government out.

David Ashton
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Re: Rethink Required
David Ashton   9/25/2013 7:54:11 PM
@mcsruff...I don't think anyone is advocating going down the North Korean route.  But I'd agree more with the article, and some of the above posters, than with your dismissive assertion that  capitalism is just "not perfect".  I think it's worse than that.  And it's not just capitalism.

If you live in the US you will have had graphic reminders recently of the results of unfettered access to high tech guns.....

It's long been a feeling of mine that if we as a race put as much effort into social progress as we do into technological progress, the world would be a much better place.

As a society, we are far too tolerant of people who make other's lives uncomfortable (muggers, thieves) or downright miserable (rapists, murderers, people like Syria's Assad).

I don't have too many glib answers.  I think one of the problems is that people these days have far too many rights and not enough responsibilities.  Wasn't it JFK who said, "Think not what your country can do for you..."?

Governments like those of the US and here in Australia seem to place free trade, immigration etc above the needs of their own people.  And I think that is irresponsible.  I may seem to be be getting a bit off the original topic here but I think this is just a small part of a big problem.


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Re: Well said
betajet   9/25/2013 7:29:03 PM
I recall watching Star Trek in black and white.  To me, it seems artificial in color :-)

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Rethink Required
mcsruff   9/25/2013 7:19:58 PM
I suggest that you go to North Korea to view the results of the socialist central-planning implied by your article. You may change your point of view & realize that capitalism, though not perfect, has provided us with a very high standard of living.

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Re: Author note
Garcia-Lasheras   9/25/2013 6:37:36 PM
Albert Einstein stated:

"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value."

Unfortunately there are most of us, electronics technology professionals, who are more interested in having success than in bringing value to the world :-(

Caleb Kraft
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the direction of tech
Caleb Kraft   9/25/2013 2:55:15 PM
To me it seems like the biggest problem is that the innovators are focusing on entertainment and comfort. Afterall, that is where the money is! 

I hate to sound this way, but the capitalist drive is what is stifling us moving forward as a society. Everyone is focused on designing what will make money, not change.

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prabhakar_deosthali   9/25/2013 8:02:59 AM
In my opinion, there is already a section in our society ( almost in every country) which is thinking out of the box. This section is putting such innovations for some good use by the society at grass roots level.

Such groups are thinking beyond FB likes, twitter tweets or Whats-app messaging. These groups are finding innovative solutions using the same technology for betterment of society

Myself an engineer with 40 years of experience of walking with this digital revolution , I am an active member of such a group which is dedicated to offer solutions to the poor, the needy and the underprivileged in the areas of education, livelihood, environment protection and health, using the available modern technology tools - the smartphones, the tablets, the internet of things,  and all that this digital revolution is offering.

So while those crazy brains in the labs may be burning midnight oil on improving processor speeds, display resolutions , transistor density , battery life and network speeds - These other crazy people are scratching their heads day and night on how to apply these technologies for the betterment of the society.


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Spot on
deron19   9/24/2013 8:49:14 PM
Every single point is right on target.  It's discouraging to see so many brilliant people working on such marginally beneficial things.  We need to redirect resources away from fast and cool to more pressing societal issues.

Tom Mahon
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Author note
Tom Mahon   9/24/2013 5:39:16 PM
I've been writing about technology for 40 years as industry publicist, novelist, essayist and dramatist, most of that time in Silicon Valley. I am keenly aware of the many benefits of the digital revolution.  But I also know that while some cayenne pepper improves the stew, too much cayenne pepper can ruin the stew.  Moderation is an evergreen virtue. 

For myself, I was introduced to the digital revolution at age ten, in 1954, when our Scout Master invited our troop to visit his home workshop.  He had started an electronics company just after World War II, and we were in awe of his garage workbench filled with vacuum tubes of all shapes and sizes.

William Shockley had yet to start his company that would soon replace these vacuum-state devices with solid-state semiconductors, but even then, our scout leader foresaw a golden future.  Boys, he said, by the time you are my age these devices will make it so you never have to work.  Imagine being able to spend all your time fishing, or reading, or listening to music, or doing whatever you want to do.

That fired the imagination of this ten-year old.  And it was reinforced twenty year later when, in 1974, I wrote and directed an industrial film for a computer company; my first gig writing about technology.  The client insisted that my script focus on how his big mainframes were going to make air travel safer, health care more affordable, and education more widely available.

Admittedly, those early episodes set a high benchmark for me that could never be fully realized.  But I'm still struck by Robert Kennedy's observation that while some see things as they are and ask "Why?" the better path may be to imagine what might be, and ask "Why not?"

(I have an eBook on this subject, with information at  Also see Occupy Technology on Facebook at

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So elequant!
junko.yoshida   9/24/2013 5:11:09 PM
Tom, you wrote:

And when we're not being sold such products, we are the products being sold to advertisers, and state surveillance agencies.

That's so well put.

As you noted:

Maybe if we stop trying to reshape ourselves in the image and likeness of our technology, and instead redirect the rich portfolio of tools now available to us to more human and humane ends,we'll find ourselves doing real and necessary innovation.

That's an eloquant statement. We aren't the technology. But we own the technology that allows us to do "necessary innovation." It's time to get to work for the purpose of real and necessary innovation!


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