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Future Hype: The Myths of Technology Change

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Conventional wisdom says that technology is the greatest new growth frontier, coupling infinite potential with an ever-growing number of faster, more efficient, and more reliable products and instruments. According to this view, we live in an unprecedented golden era of technological expansion. "Future Hype argues the opposite. Author Bob Seidensticker, who has an intimate Conventional wisdom says that technology is the greatest new growth frontier, coupling infinite potential with an ever-growing number of faster, more efficient, and more reliable products and instruments. According to this view, we live in an unprecedented golden era of technological expansion. "Future Hype argues the opposite. Author Bob Seidensticker, who has an intimate understanding of technology on professional, theoretical, and academic levels, asserts that today's technological achievements are neither fast nor progressive. He explodes seven major myths of technology, including "Change is exponential," "Product cycle time is decreasing," and "Today's high-tech price reductions are unprecedented." Examining the history of tech hype, Seidensticker skillfully uncovers the inaccuracies and misinterpretations that characterize the popular view of technology, explaining how and why this view has been created, and offering specific strategies for measuring progress against what is actually known rather than against what its boosters have promised.


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Conventional wisdom says that technology is the greatest new growth frontier, coupling infinite potential with an ever-growing number of faster, more efficient, and more reliable products and instruments. According to this view, we live in an unprecedented golden era of technological expansion. "Future Hype argues the opposite. Author Bob Seidensticker, who has an intimate Conventional wisdom says that technology is the greatest new growth frontier, coupling infinite potential with an ever-growing number of faster, more efficient, and more reliable products and instruments. According to this view, we live in an unprecedented golden era of technological expansion. "Future Hype argues the opposite. Author Bob Seidensticker, who has an intimate understanding of technology on professional, theoretical, and academic levels, asserts that today's technological achievements are neither fast nor progressive. He explodes seven major myths of technology, including "Change is exponential," "Product cycle time is decreasing," and "Today's high-tech price reductions are unprecedented." Examining the history of tech hype, Seidensticker skillfully uncovers the inaccuracies and misinterpretations that characterize the popular view of technology, explaining how and why this view has been created, and offering specific strategies for measuring progress against what is actually known rather than against what its boosters have promised.

30 review for Future Hype: The Myths of Technology Change

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This is a fascinating yet flawed book. Robert Seidensticker's argument is that people have long overestimated the speed of technological change, which he demonstrates by surveying the decades of grandiose predictions that have fallen flat. From them he derives a series of "high-tech myths" that serve as a commonality running through many of these overestimates, before concluding by drawing some conclusions as to why people do that and how they might avoid making such mistakes in the future. Seid This is a fascinating yet flawed book. Robert Seidensticker's argument is that people have long overestimated the speed of technological change, which he demonstrates by surveying the decades of grandiose predictions that have fallen flat. From them he derives a series of "high-tech myths" that serve as a commonality running through many of these overestimates, before concluding by drawing some conclusions as to why people do that and how they might avoid making such mistakes in the future. Seidensticker's thesis is a credible one, and his examples show how it has merit, but his analysis suffers from a degree of confirmation bias by cherry-picking his examples and ignoring or glancing over ones which might require a greater degree of qualification. Had he pursued a more nuanced study he might have produced a more valuable examination of human reaction to technological change, though it would probably not have been as forceful as what he does provide his readers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Yannick

    Refreshing and some points to it. We have to be aware of technological utopias. There are unlikely, should not turn into religions and the mere dream of them should not lessen our responsibility of saving planet and people. Yet this book has been written during an unfortunate time, 2006. When it comes to computer technology he clearly did not see the vast swath coming. Yes Moore's law will end, inevitably. But emphasizing that the vague possibility of video-telephony being wide-spread, available Refreshing and some points to it. We have to be aware of technological utopias. There are unlikely, should not turn into religions and the mere dream of them should not lessen our responsibility of saving planet and people. Yet this book has been written during an unfortunate time, 2006. When it comes to computer technology he clearly did not see the vast swath coming. Yes Moore's law will end, inevitably. But emphasizing that the vague possibility of video-telephony being wide-spread, available to everybody and then altering society, is vague, is clearly laughable 13 years later. So in case of some technical examples I agree, for criticizing the potential of others, he clearly had bad timing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Armands Skutelis

    Emm... where to start. This book was written in 2006, only 8 years ago. Some of you might remember a young little startup called Youtube that was launched less than a year before this book was published, and another promising new startup called Facebook. Nokia ruled the mobile phone scene, these phones had started to become really smart and GPS, along with Google Maps, had only began to shift from military tech to consumer tech. And Wikipedia in the eyes of "grownups" was something akin to urban Emm... where to start. This book was written in 2006, only 8 years ago. Some of you might remember a young little startup called Youtube that was launched less than a year before this book was published, and another promising new startup called Facebook. Nokia ruled the mobile phone scene, these phones had started to become really smart and GPS, along with Google Maps, had only began to shift from military tech to consumer tech. And Wikipedia in the eyes of "grownups" was something akin to urban dictionary. We lived in a world where everything "online and for free" was synonymous to utter trash. So no wonder that Mr. Seidensticker proudly proclaimed that internet consists mostly of garbage. All due respect to Mr. Bob Seidensticker, he sure knows more about technology than I do and I respect what he's done here. I respect his ability to lay down his arguments in front of us in an entertaining and thought provoking fashion, although I do not quite share his conclusions. Overall, his opinion just makes me think of how people who have been left behind by new technologies view them. I don't want to say that Mr. Seidensticker doesn't understand technology, it's not a problem for somebody with his credentials, but I would more likely believe that he does not understand and does not accept the cultural and societal changes the new technologies have brought upon us. Let's rewind the tape a bit more. 1997. I was 9 years old and living in Eastern Europe (where I still live). My family had a black and white tv in our tiny flat and my father read newspapers. The TV was the most exciting tech in my life, except for maybe Borat's "cassette recorder", later on I got SEGA Mega Drive, there were Tetris games, tamagotchi and around the time when September 11 happened, we got our first computer running Windows 98. No internet connection. No DVD drive. Licenced and pirated CDs of most recent movies, games followed. Also some bootleg porn burned on fresh CDs and spread around the town by adolescents. So, in a way, for me personally the last 15-20 years brought much more profound change in how I consume media than for an average American. And that's the thing with the recent change. In Africa at the moment there are people who were figuratively born in Medieval ages and who are now thrust into the Social Age. All the great inventions of the past starting from the papyrus or writing itself, the printing press, the telegraph, the telephone, TV, even computers never got to them, at least not in a way that would significantly impact their lives. But small touchscreen devices and internet is now their reality too. It's easy to be bogged down in format wars, to bring up Betamax and VHS and wonder which format was better. You can say anything you want, but HD video is better than those formats, outside of large cinema screens that still sport 35mm film (though it will eventually be overshadowed too). You can also bring up arguments that a word written on paper survives longer than something on a DVD, or that Medieval cathedrals have stood longer than modern engineering marvels ever will (though I fail to see on what else other than nostalgia this idea can be based, and even if it is true for certain buildings or technologies- they are not designed to last too long for the very reason that now there's always something new coming in and challenging the old), but the question then is, have words written on paper touched as many people in as short a period of time as modern technological marvels have? Sure, internet is filled with trash, but when something of substance is written, words and ideas can spread like wildfire, in a matter of minutes, not days, months or even years. Internet and computers are not everything, they won't bring utopia to Earth. And I'm not sure that I believe in technological Singularity. But is the widespread use of internet a less significant technological achievement as telegraph, telephone, even printing press? I've never been to any English speaking country, for example. Ironically, soon I'll visit USA and Great Britain because I have a well paid job in part also due to my good English. Would my English be as good if I didn't have internet, if it wasn't possible for me to discuss movies, technology, hobbies with like-minded individuals all over the net? Sure, people learned foreign languages all the time before internet message boards and other fancy inventions, people had pen pals, people had teachers and textbooks, people had (occasionally) a native speaker or two to whom to talk and improve their skills. However, has it ever been so easy and so cost efficient as it is now, to learn a language talking with a native speaker and soaking up the native culture of a country on, say, numerous Youtube channels, those that are not garbage but actually informative? For all the trash that exists on the Internet, there are lots of stuff (and for free) that improve our lives immensely, that inspire, that create tomorrow's leaders and Einsteins. So... what has happened during those 8 years since this book has been out? I remember a conversation with a friend around the same time, 2006, who ridiculed internet video streaming and believed it to be a technology that will never be ready for primetime. It was vaporware at the time, even when early Youtube appeared with ridiculously low resolution videos. Now we have Netflix streaming 4k content. The little startup called Facebook has bought several other little startups for billions of dollars. It doesn't matter if something will come out of these purchases or not, I myself might be inclined to think that the current Age of the App is a dud, but there are things on the horizon- virtual reality, augmented reality, software that recognizes objects and living things. All of these will or already are being called fads. There will be old men with degrees from MIT chiming in, saying that NASA or DARPA or CIA worked with these technologies (or built something) already in the 80s, "it didn't work then and it won't work now". They're not stupid people, they are smart people. But somewhere along the line, with years passing by and hard tech problems that can't be solved in a few years still puzzling them, the people lose optimism and settle down, have families and kids. You do and say a lot less risky things when you are of a certain age and have family, partially because you've been burned several times already, partially as a defense mechanism as you need your stable job to provide for your family. If Internet doesn't matter, then why is it that I pay my bills online, read my news online, entertain myself online, learn online (try to look up info on Georgian princess Tamar in 1980 one evening being at your home, try to find an obscure song of an even more obscure band in the pre-internet times, an obscure movie... or a book). For all the ephemeral nature of digital data, today it's much easier to find copies of first books printed by Gutenberg online than in 1500s library. And the same can be said of data on any achievement humankind has ever made in its history. I don't know if this review will be read by somebody living in Asia or Africa, but it could be. My grandfather could only spread his ideas and musings on life in certain circles of men in a 50-60 kilometer radius. He didn't have the luxury to discuss the newest tech in agriculture with industry experts, pioneers and leaders (as Palmer Luckey, who created his virtual reality kit and Oculus Rift partially due to being able to discuss his ideas directly with industry pioneer and successful video game developer John Carmack on online message boards) or just other fans like him. The fact is, internet allows us to exchange information at a speed and scale never seen before and that's also the main reason why we have all the tech upgrades, Moore's law and excitement. The world has never seen such a collective intelligence working to solve problems/entertain themselves/learn/create as we have now, never before so many bright minds have had so many possibilities to collaborate, to corroborate and to improve and build on other "giants" ideas. And as the number of connections grows and quality improves, we will have even greater intelligence working on these problems in future. That's what the accelerating pace of technology means, it's not about mere numbers, wishful thinking and idealism of youth or inability to understand the significance of people that have done great things in the past.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marc Andrew

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  5. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Hedges

    Oh sweet technoculture, thy mother is a harlot... OK, I may only be giving this book a favorable rating to bother my husband, Ryan. This book is more or less a response to "Future Shock". Seidensticker (Seriously? That's his name?) attempts to debunk tech myths. I knew very little about Moore's Law but my husband explained it in detail to me, and I don't think it's very applicable to the author's examples. What bothers Ryan is the hyperbole used by Seidensticker (Still, seriously?). The author pu Oh sweet technoculture, thy mother is a harlot... OK, I may only be giving this book a favorable rating to bother my husband, Ryan. This book is more or less a response to "Future Shock". Seidensticker (Seriously? That's his name?) attempts to debunk tech myths. I knew very little about Moore's Law but my husband explained it in detail to me, and I don't think it's very applicable to the author's examples. What bothers Ryan is the hyperbole used by Seidensticker (Still, seriously?). The author puts technological change into historical perspective, which I did enjoy. The Internet IS a big deal, but is it more influential than when man first captured fire or harnessed the natural power of electricity or when he developed immunizations and antibiotics or even the printing press? I think it's very challenging to rate such phenomena. I didn't find Seidensticker's book insightful, but Michael Shermer, the "Skeptic" columnist for "Scientific American," considers it an important work so it may deserve a second chance.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Really good discussion of the common notions that we are living in a fantastic age where technology is progressing at the fastest rate ever in the history of man and that invention is on an geometric increase and that everything coming out of technological development is useful and needful.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David Dalka

    An important book which unfortunately haven't been listened to enough by organizations in our society. An important book which unfortunately haven't been listened to enough by organizations in our society.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mitch

  9. 4 out of 5

    John Shutt

  10. 4 out of 5

    Francisco Lepe

  11. 4 out of 5

    Peter Auwera

  12. 4 out of 5

    James Hughes

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bill

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jovany Agathe

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dave Agans

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

  17. 5 out of 5

    sid du

  18. 4 out of 5

    John

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eugene booker

  20. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aldo Aspilcueta

  22. 5 out of 5

    Damien

  23. 5 out of 5

    Richard Smith

  24. 5 out of 5

    ♥☆~Lakshmi

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  26. 5 out of 5

    Uber Hund

  27. 5 out of 5

    Saurabh

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cameron

  29. 5 out of 5

    Damon Blue

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

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