1 (edited by dreamosis 2007-08-16 08:33:33)

Topic: The Value of Technology

So I've been contemplating the value of technology, and how, specifically, to assess it for myself.

I came up with these criteria to define truly "positive" technology.  Positive to me, in regard to these criteria, means three things: it adds energy to your world, or gives as much as it takes; it provides a service you can't provide yourself, or can't come by through other means; it doesn't create dependency.   

Here are the criteria:

*the past, present, and future cost of operating it is equal to, or lower, than the cost of acquiring it

*it does something better than a cheaper technology does, or better than you can do yourself 

*it provides you with a positive experience that isn't exclusive to using it


...Right away, by my own criteria, I begin to see that most technology is negative.  Even though my DVD player at home was a gift I got over four years ago, I've easily paid more than the cost of the unit to the electric company in order to operate it.

These definitions aren't free from subjectivity.  And they are, primarily, selfish criteria--no matter how deep, they come from the point of view of one.  To be truly positive, maybe there needs to be a fourth criterion, that assesses its cost to the environment and others (?)

How about this:

*it was created, and is operated, in such a way that it did not and does not (and will not) extort energy from others


...It also occurs to me that it's okay for a technology to be "negative" in some sense.  Even though the cost of my DVD player is ongoing, I derive pleasure from it that is "worth the cost."  Sometimes a cost is worth it.

Any input here?  How could these criteria be more objective?  Should they be totally objective?

Furthermore, to be truly positive, a technology doesn't need to meet all three of these criteria necessarily--the criteria represent an ideal.

You can't change a tiger's stripes,
but you can avoid its teeth.

Re: The Value of Technology

I think any sort of technology is useful if it helps you achieve something more effectively or efficiently or in a way you never thought possible. You just need to be responsible about using it keeping in mind to hurt other things as little as possible e.g. other people and the environment.

"The universe is on fire with wonder, beauty, and ecstasy." - From the Undines to Humanity

3 (edited by nexus 2007-08-16 22:39:39)

Re: The Value of Technology

Too much effort is 'wasted' on ensuring built in obselescence in all things technological.   A huge R+D effort is expended to make certain that everything stuffs up in the shortest possible time.  They make sure that 'tolerances' on all things [electronics, and textiles etc] are calibrated to exacting requirements to make sure they break and wear out almost by the time you get the item home.

We in the 'western' nations are wearing a huge guilt trip for consuming too much of the worlds resources.  China supplies almost everything now and most of it is pure junk which must be replaced way too frequently.  If there really is a shortage of energy and materials then stop making junk on purpose.   I'm getting tired of returning faulty products to the store or tossing them out.

I look at a mobile phone or a microwave oven or a sound system that lasts 5 minutes past the warranty and i think how the glass and metal and everything still looks new.  Yet some tiny internal wire or solder is substandard [by design] and has been intentionally calibrated to burn out after just so many uses.  It's a huge scandal in my opinion.  Junkyards are overflowing with an excess of toxic junk products because of it.  These products are increasingly being produced with slave labour for virtually nothing so profits are huge even though items are "cheap".   The quality is even cheaper.   

So, when calculating costs Vs benifits the costs are stacked against you and very few products would pass the tests on the cost side of the ledger.... materially only of course.

The real problem is not toxic, substandard products but sick, toxic, substandard commercial minds.  It is reaching a crescendo of greed and one wonders how much lower they can go.

Perhaps i'll know when i'm fetching a computer out of a cornflakes pack.

4 (edited by dreamosis 2007-08-17 07:39:18)

Re: The Value of Technology

There are companies, however, who are commited to long-lasting, quality products.

An example is the CC Crane company:


They manufacture LED lightbulbs that, while expensive, last 6 or 7 years.  On their site they roughly calculate that if each American household replaced only one of their standard light bulbs with an LED, that one less power plant would be needed. 


For fun, I've decided to quantify my little technology test, so that each criterion met scores (1) point and each criterion failed scores no points.  Zero points equals a highly negative technology; (4) points equals a highly positive technology. 

I'll use the same example from before, my DVD player:

(a) The past/present/future cost of operating it is equal to, or lower than the cost of acquiring it?  ...No (0 points)

(b) It does something better than a cheaper technology does, or something I can't do myself? ...Yes (1 Point)

(c) It provides me with a positive experience that isn't exclusive to using it? ...Yes (1 Point)

(d) It was created/is operated in such a way that it did not/does not/will not exort energy from others? ...Unknown (0 Points)

DVD Player: 2 Points.

My plan is to rid my home of anything that scores below a (2)--unless it's indispensible in some way, or the cost is "worth it," or if the score is (2) to my wife but a (1) or zero to me.  An example is our car.  She works ten miles away while I work five blocks away, so it does something for her that she can't do better herself.

You can't change a tiger's stripes,
but you can avoid its teeth.

Re: The Value of Technology

To use your DVD player example, did you factor in the cost of renting/buying the discs, and the % pleasure derived from that also?

I've had similar thoughts on the matter, and if it doesn't get used, it doesn't stay around long, I try to be as efficient with equipment, etc. as I can.

Whether some of these techs. have nefarious purposes is still in debate...


Happy to have been a part

Re: The Value of Technology

www.fixya.com, for help with repairing those problematic devices.....         J

Happy to have been a part

Re: The Value of Technology

ape-x wrote:

To use your DVD player example, did you factor in the cost of renting/buying the discs, and the % pleasure derived from that also?

Yes, but I'm not being meticulous--just getting a roughly quantifiable feeling for how much I own my things and how much they own me.

I've always been very spare, too.  My friends are always commenting on how "nice" my apartment feels, and when I question them about it they say that "it's because all you have is what you need."

Actually, I have a lot more than what I need.  I probably have ten boxes full of stuff that I only want, but most of my friends have a truckload (literally).

You can't change a tiger's stripes,
but you can avoid its teeth.

Re: The Value of Technology

The reason I bring up the cost of the media, D, is because that value to me is more important than the cost of the energy it consumes. I would weigh whether or not I needed a DV player based on the worthiness of the entertainment value, or educational value available versus the net for example, The net wins hands down.

It's fine if you own these things, if they don't get used that often, unplug them and put 'em in a closet for when you need them, I have a VCR in storage, it's there if I need it but not using any power 't all.                                          J

Happy to have been a part

Re: The Value of Technology

I always need a flash light at work and I've been getting those LED lights.  I've had several different versions, even a drop light that is LED.  They break often, and it is almost always in the on/off switch.  The led part is fine but with a defective on/off switch, it is useless. 

What is so annoying is the fact that these led lights use an electronic circuit to operate, but rather than this complex aspect of the flash light being the problem, it is a simple mechanical on/off switch that goes bad.  I really didn't dwell on the planned obsolescence aspect of it, instead I would simply purchase more than one, on the chance I would get an led flashlight that would last.

The scientific elite have been murmurring about constructing products at the atomic level.  When you are constructing an item at the micrometer, angstrom or nanometer level until you have your full size product, the structural integrity is supposed to be immense.  In otherwords, extremely strong, durable.  Military applications will benefit from this, but as for the general public, we will most likely not see any benefit for some time.

Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement.
You have to believe in the impossible in order to become.