Brave new nanoworld

In the exhibition Design and the elastic mind in New York Nokia demonstrates the prototype of Morph, a mobile phone built with nanotechnology.
Nokia Morph Phone

This design triggered me to do some quick research on what nanotechnology actually is and what it means for the future. In short, nanotechnology is professed to change our economy and society in a much more revolutionary way than any other technology so far. The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology lists the benefits of it as well as its dangers. In short, from the benefits point of view, nanotechnology will save the world, making it finally into that green leisurely utopia we have all been promised for so long. From the dangers point of view, nanotechnology will destroy the world structure and us with it.

Which brings me to my point, which is not about nanotechnology, but about the future as we imagine it – and the actual outcome.

When the escalator was invented, the intention was to transport people quicker from A to B. The inventors assumed that the people would continue walking, adding their own speed to that of the rolling stairs. But humans love being transported because it gives them the luxurious pleasure of doing nothing and still getting somewhere. So on the escalator people stop walking and wait till they reach the end, unless they are in a great hurry.

With digital revolution people expected all paper to disappear. But digital revolution has also brought along a vast amount of information and mass access to cheap printers. So we now use more paper than ever.

Telecommunication was thought to reduce travel, but as Tim Harford writes in the February issue of Wired: ‘Paradoxically, your cell phone, email, and Facebook networks are making it more attractive to meet people in flesh.‘ Along with mass access to telecommunication there also came mass access to air travel. So we now travel more than ever, also because it is so much nicer to have a business meeting in a sushi bar in Tokyo instead of on a video screen in your office.

Economical wealth and technological progress were expected to bring us also more free time, make us more relaxed, tune our activities to leisure and art. But technology enables us to do things faster, so we automatically do more things and are therefore in a continuous lack of time. What was supposed to make us happier, gives us instead such an enormous amount of choice in any domain of life that we constantly worry about choosing the right thing. And worried people are not happy people.

Whatever we predict, the future will be different. Fortunately or unfortunately.

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3 commentaires pour “Brave new nanoworld”

  1. » Brave new nanoworld dit :

    [...] plkphoto’s journal wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptIn the exhibition Design and the elastic mind in New York Nokia demonstrates the prototype of Morph, a mobile phone built with nanotechnology…. [...]

  2. Satya dit :

    Really good article. I have been following your blog for last 3 months. You have good knowledge
    on Mobile(cell phone) Industry and happenings. Please continue the good work. Thank you.

  3. carl dit :

    Great work here could use you on my site..