How has technology made our lives better?

David Pogue: How has technology made our lives better? 

I don’t think I’m in any better position to answer that than anybody. Touchtone phones are faster than rotary, e-mail is faster than postal, people have more of a voice on the world stage when they have a blog or they make a pod cast.

And the real question is, why hasn’t technology brought us more free time? That’s a more interesting question to me.

Now that we can check our e-mail in the bathroom or work on our presentation on the subway. Why don’t we have more time at the end of the day because we’re definitely doing stuff faster than when we were typing or sending telegrams.

And I think that’s a quirk of human nature. I think as we create more time, we invent more stuff to fill it up. So we will always be pursuing that unpursuable [sic], unattainable moment of getting that much work done and then stopping because now there’s more stuff both with work and entertainment to fill up the time that we’ve freed up.

My main concern about the blogosphere is its potential to destroy people. When they get the story wrong, when high schoolers say horrible things about somebody else at school and ruin their reputation and ruin their lives, and suicides, and when kids goad their teachers into having an outburst in class and film it on their camera phones and then post it on YouTube. The potential for abuse is huge.

We are not teaching kids as we teach them how to use the internet. We’re not teaching them things like ethics and the permanence of what they put out there and the fact that you can’t confine anything on the internet.

How many candidates have there been whose reputations were soiled or damaged because something they did in one place, like Florida representative Mark Foley having a sex chat with his intern, but oh, it’s just a chat room. No one will ever know.

No. On the internet, anything gets out everywhere or can and it’s there forever. We need to teach this stuff; ethics and etiquette and morals and consequences--because the internet intensifies every one of those things.

 

Recorded on May 15, 2008

The better question is, why can't technology given us more free time, says Pogue.

European wind farms could meet global energy demand, researchers now say

A new study estimated the untapped potential of wind energy across Europe.

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • A new report calculated how much electricity Europe could generate if it built onshore wind farms on all of its exploitable land.
  • The results indicated that European onshore wind farms could supply the whole world with electricity from now until 2050.
  • Wind farms come with a few complications, but the researchers noted that their study was meant to highlight the untapped potential of the renewable energy source in Europe.
Keep reading Show less

Physicists find new state of matter that can supercharge technology

Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
  • The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
  • Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.
Keep reading Show less

New vaccine (for cats) nixes allergic reactions for humans

You want one. Now you may be able to survive one.


Photo credit: Jie Zhao
/ Getty contributor
Technology & Innovation
  • Cats live in a quarter of Western households.
  • Allergies to them are common and can be dangerous.
  • A new approach targets the primary trouble-causing allergen.
Keep reading Show less