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NZ Herald: How sex, food and war drive technology

Posted in Reflections On Science on April 6th, 2010.

Andrew Stone reviews the book Sex Bombs And Burgers: How War, Porn And Fast Food Created Technology As We Know It, by Peter Nowak.

In his book, Nowak discusses how the industries behind war, food and pornography have indelibly shaped the technology we use, and our culture with it, citing such examples as Lena, a PlayBoy centrefold and the first jpeg, the frozen french fry

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“In a nutshell, Nowak’s breezy history assembles evidence that our fundamental needs – to dominate, to eat and to procreate (or at least titillate) – lie behind the staggering explosion in technology and the global economy in the last half of the 20th century.

“Devices and creature comforts that we take for granted in our suburban homes – televisions, videos, computers, freezers and fast-food meals – can trace their origins, writes Nowak, to those animal appetites of food, sex and dominance.

“The author argues that technology by itself is “value neutral” but accepts that, in the wrong hands, can be destructive. In other words, it’s what we do with it that matters, he asserts.”

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