Real progress is rare nowadays. Instead, we simply complicate our lives to achieve something different. Something our generation can claim as their addition to the world. When you think about it, new technology does anything but make our lives simpler. There are a vast array of tasks that need to be completed before this kind of progress can work. A huge network of people employed to administer several little tasks that combine to give the end user a simpler life. A simpler life this end user spends working within other networks which help other end users enjoy the same simplicity.
When thought of like that, our lifestyle seems moronic. At least we’re kept busy. But this is just one view. Another is that the human race, in its desire for something different, so that we don’t become bored, is pushing its capabilities. Testing our environment to the maximum to see what we can achieve. It’s somewhere between inquisition and pomposity. A quest to master our environment. However, is “because we can” a good enough reason to employ resources to technologies that do nothing to improve things?
Would we, in our capitalist society, continue in this manner without the financial rewards developing these technologies guarantees? These rewards exist because people demand new technology. We want new things, to be at the cutting edge, but do we need to think a little harder about the good new technology does us before we go out and buy it/sign up to it? Wouldn’t this make new product developers work harder for us and actually generate real progress?
Slightly off topic but vaguely related; I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey the other day. Initially I was slightly put off by the pace of it. It takes an incredibly long time for anything to actually happen, and when it does it’s rather abstract. That being said, subsequently I have enjoyed mulling over the issues it raises, especially those to do with human race’s progress. Ape’s, having developed the ability to use the tool, evolved to humans who took this to the extreme, eventually managing to achieve hugely powerful computers and even space travel. However, this is almost their downfall when a computer (HAL), being used for most of the functions of a space mission, determines human’s themselves are too risky to keep around. Could this be considered a progress trap?