William Gibson on "unanticipated impacts" of technology
Interesting insight from William Gibson in this interview:
"The strongest impacts of an emergent technology are always unanticipated. You can’t know what people are going to do until they get their hands on it and start using it on a daily basis, using it to make a buck and using it for criminal purposes and all the different things that people do. The people who invented pagers, for instance, never imagined that they would change the shape of urban drug dealing all over the world. But pagers so completely changed drug dealing that they ultimately resulted in pay phones being removed from cities as part of a strategy to prevent them from becoming illicit drug markets. We’re increasingly aware that our society is driven by these unpredictable uses we find for the products of our imagination."
Why do I blog this? This is a common lesson in sociology or in history of science and technology but it's always intriguing to see it formulated by a fiction writer. What I find interesting here is the final sentence, in which Gibson argues about how our society is increasingly driven by these unanticipated uses.