Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ahead of his time

Steve is discussing with his speechwriter how to approach the announcement of a new phone.


Steve: How about I begin by comparing telegramese with SMS abbreviations?

Speechwriter: Been done already.

Steve: Uh huh. OK. Um. How about taking snapshots with a Box Brownie compared with snapping friends on your phone and 3Ging them?

Speechwriter: Been done.

Steve: Damn. OK. Instant messaging now superseded by Twitter?

Speechwriter: Been done.

Steve: Just who was it who said all this before me?

Speechwriter: Samuel Butler.

Steve: I wanna meet this guy.

Speechwriter: Bit late. He died 1902.

Steve: Wow. Ahead of his time. Saw it all coming.



Two strands run through this conversation.

One is Steve desperately hunting for an interesting angle. An analogy that hasn’t yet been revealed. That’s hard.

The second is that the concept of machines being a threat to humans was clearly foreseen and laid out 140 years ago by Samuel Butler in Erewhon.

It is ironical that even intelligent people can overlook the idea that less is more, or even more ominously, The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

Will we become the slaves of machines? Some of us already feel we are.


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