Innovation and progress: The greatest paradox of the 21st century

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  • 4 minutes (886 words)

When futuristic images are used to display the city, many people's heart will beat faster. Usually, these images are accompanied by technocratic futuristic dreams, creating food from scratch, driving precise on time and offering the environment exactly what you asked for. This image communicates that in the full implementation of innovation and progress the world emerges as utopia. This essay will bring you the dreams and lies that you have been advocating over the past centuries under a critical magnifying glass. These technical innovations and progresses are believed to create a better world, but can create an opposite effect.


The improvement of someone else

Innovations are according Van Dale 'renewals'. Together with the word progress, it's innovations that make things better. For example, a car can be introduced to drive faster, more economically and safer. But on the other hand, one can also speak of an invented weapon which is faster, more efficient and deadly. The word better is very subjective and can therefore be interpreted differently by different people.

But when people speak of progress and innovation, it suggests that the renewed one was an improvement. This improvement is usually defined with a magnifying stage such as smaller, better, bigger and faster. However, we are selective in what word fits in. A telephone should go faster instead of slower and a car must drive more efficiently instead of inefficiently. Whether the user agrees with the progress, the consequences of innovation are not important here.

This indicates that an improvement is ultimately determined personally and can not be imposed by society. A faster train network is by no means better. Perhaps Grandpa Jan thought it was a good opportunity to stare out of the window for a long time, and is not pleased by faster train network. A smaller usb stick is no better, maybe this is precisely the reason why Grandpa Jan can never find it. An improvement is in the eye of the beholder and is therefore subjective.


The progressive vision

If progress is a subjective concept, what does this concept look like in the 21st century? Most magnifying stairs used are enlargements considered by the market that benefits from it. For example, a delay in your production process is not considered a good thing and an inefficient employee must be retrained. The market does not tolerate non-productivity, putting its progressive vision on you.


The Jevons effect

Innovations and advancement thinkers promise us through a more efficient productive chain great things. The 21st century energy crisis could be solved with innovations. But here's the jevons effect makes these savings disappear. The jevons effect is also called the rebound effect and is based on the jevons paradox. By means of technological progress, the efficiency of something increases, but on the other hand, it will be used more instead of less. Jevons took this example of the steam engine. In 1865, this economist took advantage of a technological advance to use coal more efficiently. Instead of a lower consumption, it just increased for coal. The causality for this in the usage saved money, which is commonly used to buy and use more.

This effect is also reflected in today's life. Cars are getting more efficient, but we drive more every year. Devices are getting cheaper, but we're buying more from it now. There is close connection between progress and the economy. Efficients and better features are sacred in our neoliberal society and cause a price reduction. The saved money is usually spent and this has been the saving of no use, just driving more of the raw material. A material dissatisfaction.


Innovation and time

When the industrial revolution took place in the 1800s, it had major consequences for the workers. The work which disappeared was considered unnecessary or replaced. The jobs were not needed anymore and the question quickly arose: Is there any work in the future? But instead of no work there are tons of bullshitjobs dominating our life. When I look around me, we are (economically) working ourself to death. but regarding these innovations and progress since 1800, where did that time go? Huge amount of time left right?

But instead of a quiet world, the world became increasingly crowded. The common effect comes in the savings of time. Where time is saved, the system demands it in a different way. With an improved infrastructure, you save about half an hour's travel expenses. But instead of completing the time to your own interest; you stay at work for one hour more. Instead of more time for yourself, the (neoliberal) system sees it differently; an immaterial dissatisfaction.


Where technical innovations and progress in theory are a beautiful future with more time and less commodity usage, there is a paradox around the corner. Due to our material and intangible discontent in combination with subjective progressism of the market, the innovations lose the value it could have brought us. When we let the neoliberal view of the world go, we could determine our own progressive vision. But as long as we want more time and raw materials with less effort, we are feeding a gaping hole in a limited world that only will eventually collapse. One considers innovations to create a better world, but they can bring an opposite effect.



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