Disappointment with technology is inevitable

You promised me Mars colonies

Since Apollo 17’s flight in 1972, no humans have been back to the moon, or gone anywhere beyond low Earth orbit. No one has traveled faster than the crew of Apollo 10. (Since the last flight of the supersonic Concorde in 2003, civilian travel has become slower.) Blithe optimism about technology’s powers has evaporated, too, as big problems that people had imagined technology would solve, such as hunger, poverty, malaria, climate change, cancer, and the diseases of old age, have come to seem intractably hard.

People say there is a paucity of real innovations. Instead, they worry, technologists have diverted us and enriched themselves with trivial toys.

The hope that an entrenched problem with social costs should have a technological solution is very seductive—so much so that disappointment with technology is inevitable. You promised me Mars colonies. Instead, I got Facebook.

From MIT Technology Review, November 2012

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