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Doug Hill is a journalist and independent scholar who has studied the history and philosophy of technology for more than twenty-five years. His book, Not So Fast: Thinking Twice About Technology is the result of those studies. His work has appeared in numerous national publications, including the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Atlantic, Salon and Esquire. He is coauthor of the bestseller Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live.  He lives in Pasadena, California.

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About James Howard Kunstler

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James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

8 Responses to “KunstlerCast 318 – Yakking with Doug Hill about the Fate of Technology”

  1. DurangoKid July 16, 2019 at 6:44 pm #

    After having worked in Silicon Valley for a couple of decades I discovered engineers in general are astonishingly naive about matters political and economic.

  2. mrmiller July 17, 2019 at 6:17 am #

    Allow me to play the devil’s advocate. I think technology is awesome. Once you have some level of electronics, they can basically provide you with endless entertainment, and this goes especially double if you know how to program games and other things too. Technology’s capacity to store data has grown so dramatically that for all intents and purposes, it might as well be close to infinite. Not quite, but it’s a lot.

    So, to me, I would like to start off with the low-hanging fruit of pushing back on technology. I think that we could be a lot better off if we went back to low levels of connectivity, especially related to social media. It would also use less electricity. Also, we could do better with repairing electronics and not have even remotely as many types of devices so that it would be easier for everyone to accomplish this. Also, we should just state that ONE television is fine. And you should only buy the BEST computer, and lower-end models should be gotten rid of. The list could go on, but it’s the degree that we should start with, since most people are looking for more balance these days, but they wouldn’t react very well to extremes. However, I will admit that the pollution, while not apparent to westerners, is very severe in China. but does Doug think we should ban electronics? Or just make them more expensive so that we essentially pay for the externalities? Some of the issues are how it’s done, not necessarily the product itself. The debate is fresh though lately.

    This also goes for cars. Look, this is a REALLY big issue. We still have to transport things and move people, but what if we just drove in smaller loads to the edges of cities in electric vehicles and made people ride bikes to pick the stuff up? It’s really not that ridiculous, but the scale of what we’re doing right now is the problem. And I personally wouldn’t mind getting an electric bike and using it everywhere I can. But again, this is a matter of degree. The real issue that I have deep concerns with is the scale of what’s required to build roads and support cars. But theoretically, we’re not going to tear them down, we could just use other transport options on them. People already do, to a degree, but most people don’t like riding bikes because they think it’s unsafe. Or the distance to work is too far. It would be a very pragmatic idea to encourage people to search as hard as they can to get a job locally first, within a five-mile radius, although with an electric bike, you could actually do more, given the weather was good.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I agree with the author. I just don’t know how he intends on carrying out his agenda. But these are my personal ideas, to first, pluck the low-hanging fruit. I could be very, very wrong, but cars seems to be a much bigger issue in the grand scheme of things than electronics, but it depends also on how we use them.

    • Cavepainter July 24, 2019 at 3:34 pm #

      Oh yeah, “ONE television”. Sure, there will be that Gnostic like Utopian epiphany among all peoples, and WOW (!) everyone will be in such uniform sync that bureaus full of innumerable bureaucrats and enforcement agencies won’t be necessary, just universal bonhomie will insure uniform supply of all needs for all 8 billion.

      • mrmiller July 24, 2019 at 6:56 pm #

        Did I ever say that this should be enforced through force? It could just be cultural. One per person. Sounds reasonable to me.

    • vsoguy January 11, 2020 at 2:04 pm #

      Yes I agree that technology is awesome on one hand, but it’s a slippery slope as it can be very detrimental as well.

      Screen addiction is a major problem which is becoming increasingly worse. For example, my roommate’s only activity is sitting in front of his “smart” TV watching videos, while he has his laptop in front of him playing a game, and his smartphone in his hand doing something else. That to me seems like self-destructive behavior. It wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t sit there doing that for up to 18 hours a day. And it’s really all he does besides working a part time job. I’m guilty of too much screen time as well by watching a good deal of streaming video on Netflix etc.

      As for cars, regardless of what kind of car is being used, cars depend on fossil fuels for their production. Bicycles as well. The metals and plastics required for both are derived from mining activity or directly from petro-chemicals. So the best that can be achieved by transitioning to electric cars or alleged renewable energy sources is to kick the can down the road awhile. That’s not really a solution.

      I’m not proposing we get rid of technology, that in itself would have major consequences since our modern infrastructure utterly depends on technology at this point. My conclusion is that human beings just aren’t as intelligent as we’d like to believe.

  3. goldpen July 27, 2019 at 10:37 am #

    All of your podcasts are first rate Mr. JHK, but the last two have been exceptional. The one with Rob Gourdie and this one with Mr. Hill. Hope you get to talk with them again next year.

  4. Bingadscoupon August 21, 2019 at 5:51 am #

    You are describing the fate of technology and so much information available here. if you want to advertiser products related technology,so you can run advertise at bugdet price This will help you to advertise your brand on Bing at a heavy discount. You can use Microsoft advertising Coupon can promote your business at a low cost.

  5. Pat Ormsby September 5, 2019 at 9:43 am #

    Doug was saying he hadn’t been to an airport in a while because they overflow with so much technology. He might not have the same condition I do, and anyone who admits to it sets themselves up for ridicule. Brian Stein, a CEO in the UK, who has come out of the closet as it were, says he knows lots of high profile people with this condition, but none of them can admit to it. People with this condition become physically ill in places with too much wireless digital technology. You cannot have this condition and really believe we are going to have a glorious technofuture. You become aware of others reacting in a similar way (e.g., sudden irritability), but they are not aware of it themselves. We are making ourselves sick and stupid with this. The science on this is very clear, but suppressed in the name of first national security, and now the economy. I’ve heard that Vladimir Putin has said (but cannot confirm if it is real) that Russia has to do nothing but stand back as America collapses. We’ll drive ourselves insane with our smart phones.
    However, the young people of his country are also addicted to smart phones. We let the genie out of the bottle and what has been initiated will run its course.

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