Every once in a while somebody explains that “we” don’t need this or that product, however great it may be and however great the demand for it. For example, a tech reviewer dubs Apple’s latest iPad models “largely unnecessary,” given last-year models almost as capable.
The charge of unnecessariness is surely false when we’re talking about customers who do want the most cutting-edge technology and can put it to good use. But it’s false in a broader perspective too — unless we suppose that all advances in human civilization beyond the level of the hut and the bearskin are “largely unnecessary” to human survival and well-being.
If technological progress is necessary, so are key aspects of how that progress happens, including the fact that it so often happens by “largely unnecessary” increments. Any given marginal advance in computer or PC tech may have been dispensable. But the same can’t be said of the process of cumulative improvement as a whole. Consider, for example, that some ninety percent of what we now do on our PCs would have been impossible to do with the 1980 PC. Our 2014 laptops could not have been crafted without myriad intermediate advances.
As striving human beings, our needs evolve as our means improve and enable us to pursue ends that we could not have pursued with less powerful means. Ergo, I welcome every little improvement we can get. And I can hardly wait for my 2025 iPad.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.