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By Michael Sacasas | Some brief thought on the Programmable World (in which ubiquitous wireless sensors make objects and machines “smart”): The envisioned Programmable World, as Bill Wasik has called it, is a tremendously sophisticated time- and labor-saving technology. Just think of all that we will not have to worry about or do when machines “talking” to each other will automatically do it for us.

But … the promise of time- and labor-saving technology is rarely fulfilled. See Ruth Schwartz Cowan’s More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave for a book-length validation of that claim.

Really, the effect of such technologies is to instill in us the ideals of efficiency and productivity. And that just gets tiresome. In an earlier post I wrote that the Programmable World would enable us to sleepwalk through life. Allow me to take that back. The Programmable World will encourage us to speed-walk through life. But really, the two are not so different – sleep walking and speed walking. In both cases, you’ve taken leave of the present.

So here, free of charge, is your inoculation, for today, against the tyranny of efficiency and productivity.

Pieter Brueghel, The Harvesters (1565)

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