5 inventions banned tomorrow if invented today
Tuesday, 3 June 2008 — by Wayne Smallman
Some things are probably best left never being invented. But some just got invented anyway, long before we could have been aware of their potential to impact our lives for the worse. Here are 5 inventions that would most likely be banned tomorrow if invented today…
1. The Internal Combustion Engine
The internal combustion engine, which in their present form harness the power of fossil fuels quite inefficiently, or at least those engines that reside in the vast majority of motor vehicles trundling around the world’s roads today.
As technologies go, the engine is one of the most important enabling technologies in the whole of human history, instrumental in just about everything we’ve achieved since the first fully practical engine was engineered back in 1885 by Gottlieb Daimler.
However, their use of fossil-derived fuels is a major problem, not just for the environment, but for society as a whole since supplies of petroleum-based products are dwindling fast.
Alternatives appear plentiful, but political heel-dragging, heavy-handed corporate lobbying and problems associated with biofuel variations raise more questions than answers.
2. Food Additives
Food additives like colourings and preservatives are a known and growing problem, some of which are now proven to have negative effects on human health, especially in children.
Worse still, food additives are directly linked with the condition ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), “a mental illness characterized by an impaired ability to regulate activity level (hyperactivity), attend to tasks (inattention), and inhibit behavior (impulsivity).”
Kids are highly charged animals as it is, without them being in possession of the metabolic rate of a fruit fly!
Over here in Britain, there’s been a great deal of public attention focused on healthy eating and a thankfully hostile reaction to food additives, hopefully assuring us of a healthier, while likely less colourful food future.
3. Nuclear Power
These things never really lived up to the dream-like potential those early pioneers imagined. Not only is nuclear energy largely inefficient, but the waste byproducts of nuclear energy are an environmental Armageddon waiting to happen, especially if not handled with extreme care.
Add to that the amount of effort required to shield against nuclear radiation and you have yourself something that really does leave one wondering why we even bother.
The astounding thing is, Mother Nature perfected natural nuclear reactors billions of years ago, right here on Earth, in Africa. So we clearly have much to learn.
4. Modern Packaging Materials
Probably the bane of environmentalist and the environment alike are things like wax-coated drink cartons, plastic bags, polystyrene, practically all food packaging. These things are a nightmare, get everywhere and take years to break down and rot.
Compounding the problem of modern packaging is the personally more annoying excess of packaging we seem to amass with every visit to the local supermarket or high street store.
There are entirely recyclable alternatives to much of the packaging we use. Plus, a lot of the packaging is just wasteful and needless anyway.
The final idea was suggested by fellow Powncer and contributer to a previous article Dave L. of Cleveland, US.
It’s an intriguing and very thought-provoking idea. His arguments are quite massive, so for the sake of simplicity, I’ll be offering up an abridged version.
A book shared is a problem multiplied
“A person who can take a book out of the library is a person who doesn’t need to purchase the book and the way corporations do the piracy math, anyone who has gotten something for free is counted as a lost sale without regard to the possibility that this person might not have paid for the item if that was the only choice.”
So in these strange days of enhanced copyright and DRM (Digital Rights Management), libraries could well have been a modern-day anathema.
To copy is copyright theft?
“If there were no libraries today people would still be doing what people do: loan cool stuff to their friends: ‘Here, check out this cool CD / Book / Movie!’”
I have to wonder if even the CD, the DVD or even the video cassette would be banned tomorrow if invented today!
While reading through Dave’s excellent suggestion, I had an idea of my own which would probably spell doom for the idea of libraries, even if all of the copyright issues were resolved — think of all those dead trees.
Yes, the environmental implications would be a show-stopper in their own right, forcing the idea of libraries towards those of the digital variety, where Dave’s hell of copyright litigation would be waiting.
Since it’s taken me well over a month since originally coming up the idea for this article to actually think of four inventions, with community spirit in mind and in a vain attempt to find the mystical fifth technology, I had to ask around for suggestions.
And since this is such a thought-provoking topic, be sure to share your own ideas on what we’d ban tomorrow if invented today…
- The History of the Automobile
- Parents warned of additives link
- Oklo: Natural Nuclear Reactors
- The dirty business of waste packaging
- Nuclear clean-up costs ‘to soar’
- Asking for feedback on Pownce for an invention that would be banned