Useless technologies

Maybe I’m getting old, but as someone who’s been living on the bleeding edge of technology since 1984 or so, and early-adopting all kinds of gadgets, there are increasingly more things that leave me indifferent, or I actually find them annoying. Let me cite some examples.

  • Smart watches. I saw how they work, said “meh”, never got one. Instead, I use a very classic mechanical watch. It is a very elegant piece of technology that is powered by hand motions, is easily serviceable and lasts for a very, very long time. Also, it isn’t landfill fodder.
  • Social media. Strictly speaking not a gadget or a tech artifact, but I see the entire phenomenon as extremely worrisome, and it does kind of function as the spirit behind lots of gadgets. My main problems with social media are that they are corporate-owned, and as such have a chokepoint of censorship, where a political group can take control of the company, which is relatively easy, and then basically control behavior of billions. Also, they promote groupthink and mobbing, and, by definition, reduce people to very simplified patterns of thought and emotion. Absolutely none of that is a good thing. I certainly don’t object to people communicating online, and it is definitely possible to create very constructive forums, but the general trend is that Facebook, Google, Twitter and others are implementing political censorship and reducing the level of human mental diversity and complexity.
  • Virtual/hybrid reality devices. The only place where I can see use for them are driving/flight simulators. For everything else, they are just a great way of getting motion sickness.
  • Mobile apps that are essentially just single-website browsers. Just use the web browser to go to that site and there’s your “app”. Pointless. Also, dedicated media library apps. A better version of this is called a file system and a media player.
  • Appliances with Li-ion batteries built in, with no apparent thought given to servicing or replacement of the battery, which shows that the device’s useful life is obviously limited by that of the battery. It’s an obvious example of wastefulness and planned obsolescence. I’m talking about electric shavers, vacuum cleaners, toothbrushes, smartwatches, digital styluses, earphones/headphones, phones, tablets, laptops etc. It’s not that I object to things not being tethered to a wall with a power cord, but just make batteries that are standard, modular and easy to replace and recycle, thank you.
  • Electric cars, but shortage of electricity. It’s not that we don’t have designs for safe and efficient nuclear power plants. Thorium-molten-salt technology that uses liquid nuclear fuel not only is safe (it’s trivially easy to make it fail in a safe manner without causing meltdowns), it also uses radioactive waste from our solid-fuel plants as fuel, basically transmuting everything into either fissile or inert form. The technology is absolutely awesome, but you don’t hear the “eco” leftists talking about it, because all they care for is stupid and toxic shit such as the windmills and solar panels. It’s all weak, inefficient and unreliable garbage. The only things that are actually great are geothermal and nuclear plants, and you can define geothermal plants as nuclear plants using unconcentrated nuclear fuel in-situ, because the Earth heat is nuclear in origin. Electric cars are not “clean”, they are toxic garbage, and they don’t use a “clean” or “abundant” resource, because electricity can be both dirty and scarce, and, thanks to the leftists, it is increasingly more so. Power the entire civilization with liquid fuel fission reactors, and power the cars with modern isotope sources instead of those huge, heavy and fragile Li-ion batteries, and then we can talk about electric cars. Safety-wise, I would rather have a nuclear reactor than a Li-ion battery in my car, and as for the solar panels and windmills, has anyone given any thought to their lifespan, recycling requirements and ecological impact? Thought so.
  • Hipster tech. Here I’m thinking about film cameras that intentionally produce inferior pictures because it’s “retro”, or using vinyl records mastered from digital sources because it’s “analog”. That’s just affectation.
  • Podcasts and video. I don’t object to those as such, but when a guy online makes a video in which he basically shows stock footage and reads from a script, it might as well be an article in textual form. Reading is a thing.
  • Nuclear fusion. Stop trying to make that work, it works only when gravity provides containment for free, i.e. in the stars, but when you have to create containment yourself, it’s extremely expensive which makes the whole idea ineffective, dirty, cumbersome and fragile. It’s also not “clean”, it produces as much radiation as nuclear fission, it’s just that the nuclear fuel is gaseous, and not solid or liquid. Liquid nuclear fuel used for fission solves all the problems of solid-fuel fission reactors, and remove all the complexity, difficulty and cost associated with fusion.

Basically, I find it annoying when people who discard a technology that consumes nuclear waste to produce clean electricity, in favor of technology that consumes rare elements to produce chemical waste and dirty electricity, have some incredible urge to lecture everybody about environmental impact. Also, I find it annoying when people who can’t write a web application to save their lives think they are tech savvy because they have all the social media apps on their phones. Also, I find it annoying when people who virtue signal online about the evils of “capitalism” and “consumerism” prefer to buy a locked-in unserviceable device because it’s “more elegant”, and they also bully people who still use an older device because they are “poor”. Also, they use hipster tech, but ridicule “boomers”, without actually knowing what a “boomer” is, only that it’s someone older than they are, with an assumption that they are the smartest generation because they have smartphones and stuff. But the old guys who made them their fucking smartphones, they are stupid and “out of touch with the modern things”.

It is also my impression that we are witnessing a historically unique phenomenon where the younger generations are significantly less tech-savvy than the ones before them. Basically, the WW2 generation went to the Moon, the baby-boomers invented IT, my generation invented all the IT infrastructure that runs on top of that, and the younger generations basically just use it all to exchange memes online. Basically, the level of intellectual degradation is visible from the prevalence of conspiracy theories that cast doubt on the existence of all kinds of things that were obvious to the generations before. I’ve seen all kinds of nonsense – Moon landings aren’t real, space tech isn’t real, Earth is flat, nuclear weapons aren’t real.

All I can say to this is, idiocracy is real.