A special report on smart systems
Horror worldsConcerns about smart systems are justified and must be dealt with
Nov 4th 2010 | from PRINT EDITION
“IT IS not possible to make a lasting compromise between technology and freedom, because technology is by far the more powerful social force and continually encroaches on freedom through repeated compromises.” Thus wrote the Unabomber, also known as Ted Kaczynski, in his manifesto, published in 1995 by the New York Times and the Washington Post in the hope that he might end his terror campaign or somebody might recognise his style of writing and unmask him.
Mr Kaczynski’s methods were abhorrent. His bombs killed three people and injured 23 over nearly 20 years. He was arrested in 1996 and is currently serving a life sentence. But his concern that technology will slowly but surely undermine human freedom is shared by quite a few mainstream thinkers. As this special report has argued, smart systems will improve efficiency and could help solve many environmental problems, in particular global warming. Yet if those systems seriously impinge on people’s freedom, many people will balk. The protests against smart meters in Bakersfield and elsewhere may be only the start.