A “Harrison Bergeron” for the digital age.
I expect that before long, consumer digital cameras will have integrated GPS as a standard feature. If that can be combined with facial recognition/photo archiving software and integrated with ubiqitous devices like cell phones (which already have the hardware) we’ll be able to record and review our lives visually, spacially, and socially.
I was driving back from a bike ride the other day, and a man came up to me at a gas station to ask me about my bike. Apparently he thought I was a pro cyclist because he had only seen such equipment on pro bikes when he was into cycling 25 years ago.
The man was wrong on two points. First, my bike cost $500, while pro bikes are up to $10,000. Second, the top cyclists in the world in 1980 could not get a bike like mine for any price. The world of cycling technology does not evolve as fast as say, computers, but thanks to global capitalism it does evolve, and over time, the difference is amazing.
Here is a list of equipment on my bike not available 20 years ago (I’m not an expert, there’s probably much more)
- Aluminum alloy frame (introduced 1975, popularized 1983) (pro bikes now use carbon fiber and titanium)
- Shimano STI derailleur (1990’s) with index shifting (1985) (allows much faster shifting than previous friction systems)
- Shimano integrated brake/shift levers – 1990
- Garmin cycle computer (1983), with GPS navigation tools (1990), wireless cadence sensor and heart monitor (1977) All of that in a single tiny device that syncs with your computer and creates an online exersize program is circa 2006.
- Pearl Izumi antimicrobial lycra/chamois shorts that are ergonomically designed to reduce friction, wick away moisture, and provide padding (1980’s?)
- Aerodynamic helmet with a vented microshell design for maximum cooling (date unknown, but my 1997-era helmet looks very primitive now)
- Cygolite lighting system with rechargable NiMH batteries (1983) and LED backup (1990’s)
(Some info found here.)
Finally, a public protest I can get behind.
My stance is more radical the the protesters though: as I wrote on the ObjectivismOnline forum, I am against the very idea of citizenship:
[The] question is: “is there justification for a class of privileges and protections that should be granted to a certain class of inhabitants of a country?” I don’t believe there is any such basis outside of a welfare state and anti-immigration policies.
As you might be aware, the government passed a law in 1998 banning porn on the net on the theory that porn filters don’t work. Despite being overturned by the Supreme Court in 2004, the DOJ is trying to resurrect that law (see recent attempt to spy on Google searches). Of course, the state of the art in filter tech has evolved rapidly along with the rest of the computer industry since 1998.
A new filter called iShield is able to recognize porn images based on the content of the image (other filters look at URLs and text) and according to PC Magazine, is very effective at doing so. The next generation will probably be even better — which highlights the retarding effect regulation has on technological progress – if we relied solely on government to ban “inappropriate” content from the web, we’d never know what solutions the market might come up with. The same principle applies to environmental regulations, which block more efficient and less-polluting technologies by mandating a particular technology.
Update: Slashdot accepted my story!