The Silent March of Progress

While reading “China’s plan to run the World ” I started thinking about electrical outlets. Specifically the difference in electrical plugs around the world. In the 1900’s when these technologies were being created, it seemed that each country had its own ideas about power and what would be standard. It seems that there are 12 different types of electrical plugs in use in the world today. In India, they use the plug that the British used when India was a colonial power. The Brits updated their plug in 1946 but it wasn’t adopted by India when they gained their independence in 1947. In this way, the number of “standard” plugs grew to what is now 12. It seems as China expands its influence, building it brings its idea of technology and progress to the world- it sets themselves as the standard of what is progress, what is good and worthwhile and what is not.
Some years ago I heard an interview with a man who walked the equator. When asked what was the most influential thing he saw in his travels, he recounted how in the smallest, most technologically challenged area, there was a generator, a VCR and a television and each night, people would sit around the television and watch whatever movie they had access to. The idea that what they were watching was some sort of standard idea, of what everyone should have, was the most powerful and influential thing he had see in his journey.
Technology not only brings change, it brings ideas and in this new global village, nothing moves faster. What will we do when everyone wants what we have or when everyone else wants something else?

China, technology,


The Faster I go, the Dumber I Get

In my brief study of the dull science of economics I seem to remember only a few things- one of them being Adam Smith’s talk of the “ever upward spiral of capitalism”. Inherent in this phrase was the idea that progress was always taking us to higher and higher triumphs. I remember feeling a bit doubtful about this balloon like ascension and was surprised to see that someone is also applying that feeling to the ever upward spiral of technology.
In his 2010 book, “The Shallows”, Nicholas Carr argues that this increasing ease that technology gives us may be making us dumber rather then smarter or better. I am fascinated by his point but it makes me wonder if we are not painting ourselves into an evolutionary corner? I remember the moralistic science fiction movies I watched growing up about how in the future men had grown weak and allowed machines to take over their lives making them slaves to the computers they had made. Is it possible that we are giving our challenges that make us evolve and grow to computers and will one day find ourselves helpless looking at our electronic creations to set us free?

Dumb-Computer (1)