Peak Stupidity

I started my career in 1975, drawing electrical schematics on pieces of paper taped onto a drafting board. The old-timers were still using protractors to draw circles, but the young guns were using circle templates. You got the same sized circle every time, and it didn’t leave a hole in the page. Back then, a pencil with an eraser on the end was considered high-tech.

In 1975 engineering was a slow, sedate business. It would be another decade before personal computers entered into most engineering offices and two decades before the last drafting board fell into disuse. The computer profoundly changed the typical design office. With computer-aided design techniques, it was now possible to screw things up 40 times faster than you could with a pencil. What used to take months of persistence and attention to detail could now be botched almost instantaneously.

The problem is that humans don’t think any faster than they used to. Intelligent thoughts need time to bore through bone, gristle, and rummage around, searching for an active synapse to stimulate.  That process is far slower than most would believe. Unintended consequences often do not surface for weeks or months after a project is completed. It seems that mankind has been set on a path toward peak stupidity, a journey that modern computer technology has shortened considerably.

by Harry Lauder

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