bicycle rider in a city
PHOTO: Julian | unsplash

“There has been strikingly little research on the sociology of the pandemic, even though billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on vaccines,” Zeynep Tufekci wrote for The New York Times in October 2021. “The assumption that some scientific breakthrough will swoop in to save the day is built too deeply into our national mythology — but as we’ve seen, again and again, it’s not true.”

In my entire career of more than 25 years working on web projects, the money nearly always chases the tech, and rarely is invested in quality people and thinking. In the modern world of management, people are the problem, technology is the solution. People are a "cost," and technology is a "cost-saver." Again and again, I’ve seen the money invested in crappy content management systems, search engines or chatbots, with so little invested in professional people to manage and maintain the content. 

Content management systems are an oxymoron. Management? In the modern world, we don’t manage content, we publish it and forget. The put-it-upper still dominates; the bulging, unmanaged, unmanageable website proliferates. Telling an organization that they need professionals if they want professional content is either like a revelation or a "what is this guy on?"

We won’t invest in good data management but we’ll sign budgets for literally hundreds of crappy AI COVID diagnostic tools that are all a dismal failure. And when one more failure piles on top of the mountain of technology failures we talk about the need for innovation and speed and how we can’t stop. Don’t have time to do it right. Only have time and budget to do it wrong with technology.

Technology has a value, sure, but a giant, enormous amount of it is crap, useless, hugely wasteful and everyone involved knows this, but we still carry on with the sorry dance. “Everyone gets excited about this fancy new machine that's going to replace people,” crop scientist Dr Sarah Taber states. “Then in real life it turns out to be broken all the time, can't do shit, it's a giant money pit, and eventually the sponsors give up.”

Faced with a pandemic and a global warming crisis, we’re still being peddled the same old crap by the same old tired but very rich sales geeks, that “Half of emissions cuts will come from future tech.” This is a huge, self-serving, grifting lie that puts life on this planet at risk so that some tech billionaires can become trillionaires.

We need less AI and more thinking. More sociology, less technology. It takes no genius to see we need to produce and consume vastly less planned obsolescence crap. Electric vehicles with their voracious mineral and material demands are not the answer. Walking, cycling, getting the bus or the train, that’s the answer. Don’t need no AI to model that one. As George Monbiot states, we need more public luxury and less private luxury.

But the problem is, the big problem is that walking and cycling won’t make enough quick cash returns for the planetary arsonist grifters. Gotta build some "engagement" into the model, some transient planned obsolescence demand, some metaverse. Why do you think that the climate crisis exploded during the exact same period that the tech industry exploded? Technology is the hidden hand that accelerates the climate crisis. 

Human energy. We’ve got it. To save the planet, burn your own energy. Think more, use technology less. Walk more, cycle more, use the body, not the machine. Put people and nature back at the center of the model. Take the technology god down from its throne.

Read more by Gerry