Make life easier

Bruce Mau believes as we create greater efficiencies, we get to choose how we use them.

We can progressively reduce the costs of time and resources demanded by manufacturing, but there is nothing inevitable about how we deploy the benefits that technology produces.

We can use those benefits to make life easier or to produce and consume more. We can use them to enhance our environment or accelerate its decline.

The early-twentieth-century promise of technology was to create more leisure time by freeing us from routine chores. But the average hours worked per week did not fall during the last century.

For the past twenty years, in fact, average working hours in the US have been increasing - by about one full day's work per year.

Here is the problem. We have allowed the benefits of technology to increase dramatically what we perceive as our needs. Fulfilling these new needs demands more and more effort and impact.

For several decades, automotive performance has increased at a compounding rate of approximately 1 percent every year. We could have used that achievement to reduce the cost and environmental impact of cars.

Instead, we’ve used most of it to make vehicles bigger heavier more powerful and more expensive. In fact, anxieties now run so high that people feel they need a tank to go shopping! So now we have to work longer hours to pay for our mobile fortresses.

Older note Newer note