Note — Oct 13, 2019

The Myth of Inevitable Technological Progress

Rose Eveleth at Vox with a pretty well argued case against Silicon Valley’s all too common stance claiming that technological advancement is like evolution and will happen whatever they do. It’s not the case, each decision and reflection matters, and evolution isn’t even a good metaphor for technological change. This unstoppable view also connects / has fed from America’s colonisation of the west (always forward, no looking back), and is part of a loop with consumerism.

In fact, our world is shaped by humans who make decisions, and technology companies are no different. […]

While these “innovations” range from the dangerous to the silly, they share a common thread: Nothing about them is “natural.” No natural process is creating a “smart” hairbrush or a “smart” flip flop or a “smart” condom. Or a Bluetooth-enabled toaster, a cryptocurrency from a photography company, or an internet-connected air freshener. […]

Technologists’ desire to make a parallel to evolution is flawed at its very foundation. Evolution is driven by random mutation — mistakes, not plans. […]

“It’s really tied to the whole American manifest destiny and the broader history of American settler colonialism.” The attitude is that we must march on, forward, westward, no matter what stands in our way. Going back is simply not an option.