Death to the D.I.Y. Society

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I admit it: my bias derived from self-interest. I was a bag boy. But that didn’t make me wrong when I reacted to the news that supermarkets would make customers bag their own groceries. This, I told my friends at the time, is the first brick in a road to perdition.

Since the 1970s corporate efficiency experts have burdened American consumers with a constantly expanding galaxy of tasks that businesses used to perform for them. Craig Lambert calls it “shadow work”—labor imposed on you that you’re not conscious of.

The Do It Yourself (because companies won’t hire workers to do it anymore) movement faced little resistance in a culture that elevates personal responsibility and rugged individualism. Which is how, in less than half a century, we have become accustomed to pumping our own gas and planning our own vacations and scanning our own groceries and running our own cable TV diagnostic tests, forgetting how much easier life was with service station attendants and travel agents and cashiers and technicians who came to your actual house. Not only do we work harder, we earn less due to the disappearance of service personnel jobs from the    labor market.

Corporate profits uber alles.

I recently visited a Burger King with touchscreen kiosks where you’re supposed to order your food because God forbid BK should fork out $10 an hour to a human being so you can simply tell him you’d like a #2 combo, size medium, drink is a Coke please. Come the Revolution may the scoundrel who thought of this be deported to an exceptionally unpleasant re-education camp.

Now that they have us doing everything ourselves, companies are making us provide our equipment as well.

On United Airlines from Los Angeles to New York recently, the plane was new—and the infrastructure was retro. In place of the seatback TVs that have long been standard on long-haul flights were plastic clips where you’re supposed to place your tablet or smartphone. You can imagine the discussion at United corporate:

“We’ve already conned the idiots into checking themselves in on their phones. Seat-back televisions cost as much as $10,000 per seat to install and maintain. Passengers have their own devices. Let them watch movies on their own tech!”

Liberal soon-to-be-fired executive: “What about old people who aren’t tech-savvy? Poor people without devices?”

“Screw ‘em. Plus they have to download our app and register to watch movies, so we collect more data!”

Liberal: “Some people might say we’re being mighty cheap for a company that makes $3.2 billion in profits a year.”

“And now it’ll be more billions!”

I have a smartphone. And a tablet. And a laptop. But as long as aviation remains a for-profit business sector (one with atrocious customer service), I don’t see why I should subsidize a CEO’s outrageous paycheck with wear and tear on my personal hardware.           It’s only a matter of time before we’ll have to fly the planes ourselves too.

Feeling stressed out? Overworked with a million little annoying things to do? It’s not your imagination. The D.I.Y. society has you performing jobs that older generations had done for them by someone paid to do it—and was better at it, too. Every upward tick of the Dow Jones Industrial Average is fed by the rising stress and anxiety caused by corporations schluffing their work onto us.

I would like to think that the market will self-correct by inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs to build businesses predicated on old-fashioned standards of service. But there’s no sign of that—not for ordinary people. Only the wealthy command bespoke attention, and only from luxury brands.

It is hard for most Americans to grasp how unpleasant the DIY society has made our lives because few of them travel overseas. If they did, especially to the developing world, they would find overstaffed restaurants and stores. Because labor is cheap in those countries, there is always someone available to wait on you. They can’t afford automation so the human touch dominates. Travel agents, for example—if you’re too young to remember the pleasures of having a professional work out a complicated multi-city itinerary and score you a great hotel deal via a personal relationship, you should try it when you go to the developing world. It’s a wonderful vibe and I miss it terribly stateside.

Our only hope is individual resistance.

It’s already begun. Many shoppers refuse to bag their groceries. Others are boycotting self-scanning checkout lines to save the jobs of flesh-and-blood cashiers. “They’re trying to basically herd everyone in, get everyone used to the self-checkouts to continuously cut down on staff,” a Canadian named Dan Morris explained to the CBC. “Machines don’t pay taxes, they don’t pay into the pension plan.” Only 11% of Canadians use self-checkouts.

On that United flight fewer than a third of passengers watched a movie. Who wants to clutter their device with an app for every airline they fly? I will avoid carriers like United and American that eliminate seatback TVs, favor those like Delta that are not, and so should you.

Any time a company gives you a choice between human and machine, like at BK, choose the person. Pick full-serve over self-serve. Patronize businesses that keep people on the payroll and avoid automated BS.

The DIY society will probably win. But we shouldn’t go out without a fight.

(Ted Rall, the cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

29 thoughts on “Death to the D.I.Y. Society

  1. Interesting take, I admit I hadn’t considered it quite that way. I’ll have to think about it.

    I actually like the convenience of self-checkout, always figured that the folks standing in line were scared of new technology. Maybe they’re actually supporting their neighbors. I do miss the gas station attendant – but not the repeated advice to add a quart of oil to an already full engine. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a seat back movie, instead I “read” a “book” while on a plane.

    It wasn’t that long ago that we were 100% D.I.Y. You’d carve your own spear to hunt your own food.

    • How did you know the oil was full if the attendant checked the oil? You didn’t pull that dipstick yourself, he did.
      Did he show you the dipstick?
      Did you get out of the car and walk up to look over his shoulder at the dipstick?
      I doubt it, you are simply demeaning a working man decades later because of a cheap laugh.
      Isn’t there a non-gay wedding cake producing rally somewhere you should be at?
      Or maybe it was because they cancelled that white woman feminist rally due to lack of diversity and you needed to lash out.

    • It wasn’t that long ago that we were 100% D.I.Y. You’d carve your own spear to hunt your own food.

      Those were the days… – except that I have always been hopeless at spear carving. But Doug may barter you a fine spear for a fishing net or a flask of booze. He never did bother to set up an etsy page, but you can find him at the river mouth, go left at the hyena carcass. Make sure to laugh at his jokes about hill tribe people and tell him I sent you.

      • @A5 – chuckle.

        …. continuing with the hysterical record: Specialization and division of labor helped create civilization.

        But then the pigs and other capitalists figured out that if they divided and specialized us enough, we could be exploited more efficiently.

        I’m speaking as an engineer who barely escaped the trap of the aerospace industry. If you spend ten yeas in aero no-one else will hire you. At which point, your employer sees no need to keep you happy. You do get to play with cool toys, though.

      • The historical record is indeed hysterical 😉

        Specialization / Tribe formation is a fascinating process… first there tends to be a lot of freedom when a tribe is being formed, with people benefiting from scale and the prestige of being at the edge.

        This is then typically followed by a period of increasing regularization, channeling the herd into an arbitrary direction in order to be able to “identify” the 10% fastest to promote, and the next 20-60% for retaining for less and less interesting standardized jobs. The rest is in danger of being culled, but often remains as hangers-on in some capacity since they are doing a lot of the quaint actual work.

        This is my experience in academia, at any rate…

      • Oh, and nowadays the capitalists even outsource the actual productive aspect of their own jobs to entrepreneurial start-up founders a.k.a. self-exploiting workers. Hysterical.

  2. One wonders if the predatory corporations make more from the DIY labor savings or having us pay their taxes and/or healthy refunds

  3. You’re not wrong of course (if Americans used to have this and then got rid of it, then it was certainly not out of concern for the consumers), but I have never lived in a world where people would bag my groceries for me. To me doing it myself just seems like the default, and frankly feels more comfortable.

    Tell a lie, though. I remember that one local supermarket did try to introduce bag boys a couple of years ago. Perhaps they were copying American experience, the same way they did with heavy duty Christmas advertising in a country where most people either don’t celebrate Christmas or celebrate it as a religious holiday in January instead. It was somewhat more convenient but also awkward and slowed things down. I didn’t miss the experiment when it was wrapped up, and I suspect few people did (except, perhaps, the bag boys).

  4. Gee Ted all of that was covered in FUTURE SHOCK.
    Written by Gingrich admired Alvin Toffler in 1984.
    Semi-fake-hip intellectuals who don’t bother to understand the roots and predictions from a haunting past.
    Or maybe no one bothers to read Scifi.

    And Asimov
    https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2018/12/27/35-years-ago-isaac-asimov-was-asked-by-the-star-to-predict-the-world-of-2019-here-is-what-he-wrote.html
    35 years ago, Isaac Asimov was asked by the Star to predict the world of 2019. Here is what he wrote

    “The growing complexity of society will make it impossible to do without them, except by courting chaos; and those parts of the world that fall behind in this respect will suffer so obviously as a result that their ruling bodies will clamour for computerization as they now clamour for weapons.

    The immediate effect of intensifying computerization will be, of course, to change utterly our work habits. This has happened before.

    Before the Industrial Revolution, the vast majority of humanity was engaged in agriculture and indirectly allied professions. After industrialization, the shift from the farm to the factory was rapid and painful. With computerization the new shift from the factory to something new will be still more rapid and in consequence, still more painful.

    It is not that computerization is going to mean fewer jobs as a whole, for technological advance has always, in the past, created more jobs than it has destroyed, and there is no reason to think that won’t be true now, too.

    However, the jobs created are not identical with the jobs that have been destroyed, and in similar cases in the past the change has never been so radical.

    Destroying our minds

    The jobs that will disappear will tend to be just those routine clerical and assembly-line jobs that are simple enough, repetitive enough, and stultifying enough to destroy the finely balanced minds of those human beings unfortunate enough to have been forced to spend years doing them in order to earn a living, and yet complicated enough to rest above the capacity of any machine that is neither a computer nor computerized.

    It is these that computers and robots for which they are perfectly designed will take over.

    The jobs that will appear will, inevitably, involve the design, the manufacture, the installation, the maintenance and repair of computers and robots, and an understanding of whole new industries that these “intelligent” machines will make possible.

    This means that a vast change in the nature of education must take place, and entire populations must be made “computer-literate” and must be taught to deal with a “high-tech” world
    Again, this sort of thing has happened before. An industrialized workforce must, of necessity, be more educated than an agricultural one. Field hands can get along without knowing how to read and write. Factory employees cannot.

    Consequently, public education on a mass scale had to be introduced in industrializing nations in the course of the 19th century.

    The change, however, is much faster this time and society must work much faster; perhaps faster than they can. It means that the next generation will be one of difficult transition as untrained millions find themselves helpless to do the jobs that most need doing.

    By the year 2019, however, we should find that the transition is about over. Those who can he retrained and re-educated will have been: those who can’t be will have been put to work at something useful, or where ruling groups are less wise, will have been supported by some sort of grudging welfare arrangement.

    In any case, the generation of the transition will be dying out, and there will be a new generation growing up who will have been educated into the new world. It is quite likely that society, then, will have entered a phase that may be more or less permanently improved over the situation as it now exists for a variety of reasons..”

  5. “Any time a company gives you a choice between human and machine, like at BK, choose the person. Pick full-serve over self-serve. Patronize businesses that keep people on the payroll and avoid automated BS”

    Ted, ted ted, where to start.
    Recently there was a study that showed all those MickeyD’s touch screens had human shit on them.
    Keeping that in mind, how many people wash their hands after using the toilet?
    Every business washroom has the sign warning employees to wash.
    How many employees use their phones on the toilet? How many of those disinfect their phones before washing their hands?
    How many customers have disinfected their phones after using the toilet?
    On the other hand, certain levels of contaminants are allowed in food, rat hairs, shit, insect parts yadda, yada, yada.
    Because we are NOT aware of that we accept it.
    It is a part of our society and always will be.
    EXCEPT, as people get dumber and more lax at their jobs contaminants rise.
    While we are on that topic medications manufacturies are ONLY checked every couple of years. Most meds are manufactured in China or India. They frequently change filler, water, and other materials.
    That means every BP med you take is different according to batch. Some fillers react poorly on some individuals. Some water is more tainted than other water.
    But here is the key, suppose those drug companies shave a tiny percentage of active medication from production, how many billions do they retain in profit? The individual suddenly doesn’t feel right taking their meds. The doctor will say maybe a different med is needed and change to something with side effects.
    There is a chain of assumptive trust which has been broken due to profit. It involves BIG PHARMA, doctors, and governing bodies once designed to oversee those bodies we trust.
    I’ve posted before, read retraction watch and Google up the 2005 Seattle Times series Suddenly Sick.
    And the various articles on the Oxycotin scam.
    It is terrifying how the system is gamed.
    As for DIY boxboy shit, you can hire shoppers to purchase your groceries and deliver them to your door. Kind of like grocery Uber.
    That doesn’t mean they have any greater insight into the quality of good purchased nor that they care.
    But the elderly and housebound no longer need suffer leaving home to shop.

    • forgot this.
      In the late 80’s 90’s chicken farmers would purchase expired loaves of bread. They would then grind them up plastic and all.
      because processed chickens were tested in one in lots of 10k it took a very long time before the contamination from plastic came to light.
      Same with Turkeys and Arsenic.
      And fuck the organic scam.
      Unless you grow your own food you are fucked quality wise.
      Processed foods require someone to maintain the machines. If that person is hung over or drugged or lazy, BOOM unclean food.
      Same with water, May leave the plant perfect but gains contaminants via the outdated infrastructure. That includes old piping in your home.
      Lead was used in the production of city piping. It breaks down over time.
      Flint is the tip of the tainted water iceberg.
      Distilled water is nice, but if in a plastic container it will leach the chemicals from the plastic.
      We are all fucked for overlooking what we take for granted. What we trust.

  6. Lloyd Dobler: I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.

  7. I totally agree with the premise.

    Even more insidious, “reformers” tend to first make the jobs of the service providers impossible. At some point customers will gladly assemble their own furniture etc. rather than purchase a piece hastily thrown together by a minimum wage worker while being yelled at for slacking.

    Slight nitpick. Do it yourself used to refer to people who maintained their stuff long into the future by fixing things, even constructing spare parts, etc. The emergence of cheap 3D printing may give this culture a huge boost. A renaissance of true DIY spirit could shrink the (corporate) economy considerably while boosting people’s wealth, well-being, and resilience. Not sure if we should let the neoliberals co-opt the D.I.Y. label.

    • > Do it yourself used to refer to …

      Hear! Hear!

      I had to tune up & rebuild carbs for the lawnmower and chainsaw this spring. If I’d had a professional do it, it would have cost almost as much as replacing them.

      Electronics are even worse. There ain’t no tube testers in stores no more, repair shops are nearly extinct, and even when you can find one it will absolutely cost you more than replacement.

      I fully expect my next car to come with a sealed hood and a sticker that says, “No user serviceable parts inside”

      • No thank you. OOPS, I meant, “No: Thank you!” 😀

        This grudgingly-retired engineer wasn’t aware of those, and might just find something constructive to do with his time at one.

  8. It’s funny to consider the DIY culture in the sense of decomplicating life. Movies on the plane? Oh, bother. Now I need a piece of software for my device and what if I forgot my power cord and what it, what if, what if.
    Bring a book. Jam a paperback into your coat pocket. God forbid you place Candy Crush or do a crossword or just catch a few ZZZs. Got to upgrade to the movie option. That’s how they get you.

    I’ve begun getting rid of a lot of crap I’ve got cluttering up the place by putting it on eBay. Books I don’t want, CDs, etc. Once in a while, I’ll get two people in a bidding war for something that I, literally with a gun pressed to my head, couldn’t think of an audience for. Know what my biggest expense is? Shipping. A box, bubble wrap, tape, a marker, postage, insurance, eBay’s share, etc. It adds up to a pretty big slice of the overall profit. That’s what’s really been an education for me. I had no idea how much incidentals can add up. I’ve got a spread sheet that would bring tears to your eyes.

    But that’s the world we’re heading to. Or the one we’re in. You simply cannot zone out on the incidentals. How much for a box? You don’t have one in the house somewhere? Anywhere? Not one damned box that would work? Bubble wrap? Use some newspapers. Use old gift wrap. My God, get creative. If I could get away with it, I’d use leaves in the fall. (They don’t have sufficient bounciness once they dry to insulate against breakage.)

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  10. Having just returned on United from two weeks of working with caravan refugees in Tijuana: yes. Especially on the fact that things are not everywhere as they are here. But of course it goes way beyond the DIY thing. What didn’t hit me until I got back here and saw suddenly once again people walking down the street or through airports with their noses glued to their phones was that it hadn’t been that way in Mexico. The goddammed screens are killing us. I was so struck while driving through the city with young volunteers by their level of anxiety, which was partly just the whole American-high-achieving-college-student phenomenon, wherein being not fully in control of a situation becomes downright frightening, but also I think very much caused by literally not knowing how to get around without a GPS. If there was a lag in the phone, they’d freak out, having taken no note of direction (yes, the sun is always in the south around mid-day…) or landmarks, and etc. Thinking about the long term and the idiotification of our populace, I was almost as concerned by this phenomenon as by the refugee situation.

    However, one thing. Seat-back tv screens? Egads. Horrible. When ads are playing you literally cannot turn the goddammed things off, it’s like they’ve got the capitalist megamachine piped directly into your skull. And you can never turn off your neighbor’s, so if you allow any normal peripheral vision to happen it’s kinda awful.

    On the way home I sat next to a nice, sort of hippyish young guy and we both–get this!–read books and conversed. Very nice. And then I pulled out my laptop and watched Ray Donovan.

  11. Hey there Tedster, you seem to be wrong.
    I know most of you will never ever follow the link and read the article.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-04/restaurants-are-scrambling-for-cheap-labor-in-2019

    Restaurants Are Scrambling for Cheap Labor in 2019

    The holiday hiring crunch may be over, but finding workers won’t be much easier this year.

    “It may not work out that way in 2019. Fewer teens are in the workforce nowadays, reducing the number of job seekers for low-wage work and helping raise the pay rates needed to woo those who are. Also, minimum wage increases for lower-skilled workers at companies such as Amazon.com, Walmart, and Target are making it more difficult for restaurants to compete for talent, forcing them to try everything from social media campaigns to quarterly bonuses to entice applicants. “The last 18 to 24 months, it’s been very competitive, no matter what time of year,” says Bjorn Erland, vice president for people and experience at Yum! Brands Inc.’s Taco Bell chain. “I don’t think it’s going to ease up much just because the holidays are over.”

    The unusually strong U.S. employment numbers for December 2018 released on Jan. 4 reinforced that outlook. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 312,000 in December, easily topping all forecasts, after an upwardly revised 176,000 November gain. Average hourly earnings rose 3.2 percent from a year earlier, matching the fastest pace since 2009.”

  12. While I appreciate the jobs you are looking out for I think we should look at this a different way. The past has been full of time saving innovation that took average yearly income from poverty levels in the 1700’s to the world we have today. Sure there are problems and hiccups along the way. These are not a reason to push back against innovation. This is a chance to push for real change that can truly provide for everyone. If we look to the future with hope and vision and not fear we can tackle the big problems we see on the horizon. This is only a small part of what is about to eat a large part of the worlds jobs, nothing will stop that. We need to solve the problem, not use cashiers lines in the grocery store (you still can, it just isn’t a solution).

    It is a matter of national security that our citizens are cared for with basic needs. I believe that we should form a new branch of the military called the automation corps of engineers. Millions of nerds should be invited to enlist in automating every industry in the united states, bringing down the cost of goods and services and re upping our position as a leader in the world. Businesses should be able to hire automation engineers at highly discounted rates in exchange for not owning the patentable rights to the automation. They are owned by the people of our nation. I know. Insanity. Tax the crap out of patented robots. We should charge corporations for protecting their intellectual property to better the lives of citizens that lose their jobs.

    While this is an incomplete idea it is better than the knee jerk reaction to save a few jobs on the inevitable march of innovation.

    • @mjay – well said.

      I’m a life-long Science Fiction fan – it’s always been the dream/goal for automation to free humans from drudgery.

      The Luddites were the first to fear being displaced by automation* but their fears were never realized. So far robots haven’t replaced humans, the technological revolution has produced as at least as many jobs as it destroyed.

      But I think we’re actually reaching the stage where replacing 80-90% of the workforce is achievable. We’re going to have to think seriously about what to do with all those spare man-hours. We don’t want to create meaningless make-work jobs. Perhaps we could give everyone a twenty-hour work week. We could put a lot of effort into arts and sciences, but not everyone can be an artist or scientist. We could put everyone on permanent holiday, but that eventually gets boring and humans don’t deal well with boredom.

      We should probably figure it out before we automate ourselves into uselessness.

      Graphic: Lardbeasts from WALL-E.

      *Luddites as per popular mythology.

      • Oh, come on guys. Seriously? At the risk of sounding awfully snooty, could we please have a modicum of sociological literacy? A smidgin, even?

        These trends are in no way inevitable or inexorable. They are the result of collective social decisions and of the power relations that infuse those decisions. They only seem inevitable to the extent that they are naturalized and essentialized, which, again, are social processes resulting from many decisions and ideological assumptions, however much we are taught by the dominant culture to look away from those things and pretend they don’t exist.

        If the current trajectory of “innovation” is inevitable and natural, then so are racism, sexism and misogyny, capitalism, and etc, ,etc. You can certainly get there on all those phenomena, but it pretty much requires a foundational assumption that human agency doens’t exist. And I’m pretty sure you are not going to go there, so why not, instead, take a little time to consider the actual, real, live complexity of the thing?

        And if “time-saving innovations” are simply relieving humans of the “drudgery” of work, then I’ll eat my hat, and a lot less palatable things than that. To take one example among and endless stream of examples (including of course those that Ted mentions), look at the effect of cell phones on teenage depression and anxiety over the past decade. Anyone who says technology is “just terrible” or “inevitable and wonderful” is intellectually lazy and in the thrall of pernicious ideology. James Baldwin said that the reason Americans are so anti-intellectual is that real intellectual effort is what can puncture the dream. Boy was he right.

      • I sense that something hit a nerve there.
        I stand by what I said. I am proposing thinking and making decisions. You say a lot about using the word inevitable. Automation is what the rich and smart are investing in since the industrial revolution. In that sense it is inevitable, we are choosing it. We need crazy, achievable, and measurable goals as a country/world. Not feeling much of that lately.
        I am interested in discussion that is more than the attack on a sentence.

      • This is meant as a response to mj, not sure if it will come out in the right order.

        First, apologies for what did, indeed, have the tone of attack. Such are the manifestations of a sometimes undisciplined mind in such a forum. No apologies, however, for the nerve that was, indeed, struck, or for feeling angered by the larger phenomenon and this particular iteration.

        I have nothing against “measureable goals” per se, but I do think that concept, along with the concept of “progress,” become easily folded into the dominant techno-managerial ethos that is in many ways killing us. It’s of course a very big topic that we’re not about to do justice here. But here’s one example, in line with the original column.

        A few weeks ago I was at a box store. There was this incessant babble and awful music on the p.a. system. I mentioned it to the cashier and asked if it was difficult to have to listen to it all day. I expected the usual numbed response of, well…maybe…but who cares. Instead, this lovely young woman said, “Oh, you don’t know the worst of it, this stuff can really drive you insane. I have an earphone that makes me listen to every transaction that’s happening in the store. It’s just awful. I can’t even listen to the radio in my car anymore, I’ll do anything for a little silence.”

        So this is one tiny example of something that I’m sure wealthy and perhaps even “smart” people invest in. Then there’s the cell phone and mental health example, which really is alarming–please check it if you have not previously.

        More generally, I did have the impression in what you guys wrote that there was a strong assumption of inevitability naturalness, and I really do stand by my points on that count. For the record, I’m really not against useful or sensible technology at all, but I do think that if we don’t learn to think carefully and critically about it we’re just screwed. In any case, I will continue to ponder, and than you for your engagement, which is just exactly what we need.

        Peace,

        D

      • > If the current trajectory of “innovation” is inevitable and natural, then so are racism, sexism and misogyny, capitalism, and etc, ,etc.

        That makes no sense whatosever – there is no relationship between ‘innovation’ and ‘prejudice.’ They are closer to opposites: one embracing change (Liberalism) and the other resisting it (Conservatism)

        Neither does ‘capitalism’ have any relevance to ‘prejudice’ (although it does theoretically encourage ‘innovation’ – I’ll leave that for a different conversation.)

        I’ll ignore those apparent non-sequiturs and instead address the first part: I assert that innovation is not only natural for the human race, but it is the reason we’re at the top of the food chain.

        We went from the innovations of fire, spear, and language; to agriculture, clothing, and houses; to computers, cars, and robots. We did it all because of our big brains and ability to use them, those traits were honed and reinforced by hundreds of thousands of years of evolution.

        Moreover, laziness is a survival trait. The more energy you spend, the more you have to eat, which lessens your ability to survive through lean times.

        Even in good times, the more time you spend hunting and gathering the less you have to spend inventing a better spear.

        Combine the smarts & laziness; stir in a little competition between tribes – oh, heck yeah, innovation is 100% natural and inevitable.

        > I do think that if we don’t learn to think carefully and critically about it we’re just screwed.

        I do think I made that point as well.

      • Hello CrazyH,

        I’m realizing my points did not quite come across. I didn’t say that innovation is the same as prejudice (or that capitalism is) but rather pointed out that they all result from complex processes of social decision, and so are not “natural” or “inevitable” as had, I think, been suggested. I think the naturalization of those and many other things (i.e., making them seem natural and inevitable) is a really serious problem and that we would do well to keep that at the forefront more than we do.

        I also was referring to the sorts of contemporary trends of technological innovation that had been the focus of the discussion so far. Yes, people do invent and innovate–can’t really argue that one. It’s the specific way we do it in our current era that concerns me.

        Apologies again for the tone of my first post–that stuff always feels great for a few moments, and then just gums up the works. Mea culpa.

        Onwards!

        D

      • @Daniel

        “It’s the specific way we do it in our current era that concerns me.”

        Me, too.

        Peace, Love & Groovy
        CH