This cartoon captures Thamus’ judgement quite aptly – it demonstrates the inherent risks of developing new technologies.
In keeping with Freud’s commentary on technology quoted from Civilization and Its Discontents from the Postman reading last week, the invention of the wheel is likely the reason that today we have loved ones who die in traffic accidents. However, the invention of the wheel is widely believed to be one which changed the world as we currently know it. A quick Google search for the “Invention of the Wheel” will reveal several hits with that heading!
“The wheel is an invention so ancient that we have no way of knowing who first developed it. The oldest wheel and axle mechanism found was near Ljubljana, Slovenia, and dates to roughly 3100 B.C. This technology made the transportation of goods much faster and more efficient, especially when affixed to horse-drawn chariots and carts. However, if it had been used only for transportation, the wheel wouldn’t have been as much of a world-changer as it was. In fact, a lack of quality roads limited its usefulness in this regard for thousands of years” (Grabianowski 2011). This is something true of many technologies – sometimes they can seem ahead of their times, or misunderstood or even perhaps not able to achieve their full potential until other technological developments are made to compliment their optimal use.