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Posts tagged futurism

Technology report by Steve Newman, KRON-4 TV newscast, San Francisco, 1981 :: via ReubenMiller

‘Are you fond of music, Mr. West?’ Edith asked.

I assured her that it was half of life, according to my notion.

‘I ought to apologize for inquiring,’ she said.

‘It is not a question that we ask one another nowadays; but I have read that in your day, even among the cultured class, there were some who did not care for music.’

‘You must remember, in excuse,’ I said, ‘that we had some rather absurd kinds of music.’

‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I know that; I am afraid I should not have fancied it all myself. Would you like to hear some of ours now, Mr. West?’

‘Nothing would delight me so much as to listen to you,’ I said.

‘To me!’ she exclaimed, laughing. ‘Did you think I was going to play or sing to you?’

‘I hoped so, certainly,’ I replied.

Seeing that I was a little abashed, she subdued her merriment and explained. ‘Of course, we all sing nowadays as a matter of course in the training of the voice, and some learn to play instruments for their private amusement; but the professional music is so much grander and more perfect than any performance of ours, and so easily commanded when we wish to hear it, that we don’t think of calling our singing or playing music at all.

from "Hot, flat, and blinded by science," by Christopher Shea, Boston Globe/Brainiac, 30 October 2008

Friedman is locked into reverence for technology, sometimes at the expense of common sense. He conjures up a house so “smart” that its room lights are triggered by motion sensors; a central monitoring device is in constant contact with the local public utility, automatically reducing consumption at peak times; the house generates its own energy from wind and the sun; and “when the sun is shining brightly and the wind is howling” the house’s energy-brain will turn on your dryer, finishing up your laundry.

McKibben asks: “Does it ever occur to him, in the grip of a fantasia like this, that if the sun is shining brightly, or the breeze is blowing steadily, you could dry your clothes on a $14 piece of rope strung off your back deck, or for that matter on a foldable rack in the apartment hallway?” Friedman’s smart house is more benign version of the much-hyped hydrogen car, in other words: They’re both sexy and a long way off, while there are other, simpler solutions already at hand.