Should we pull the plug on the internet before technology ruins the world? In a debate conducted by the ABC, Jonar Nader was the third speaker for the affirmative. To listen to an excerpt from the radio broadcast, please click on the green play button below.
Below is a transcript of the audio file.
Host: With us tonight is Jonar Nader for the affirmative. Author of ‘How to Lose Friends and Infuriate People’, he describes himself as a Post Tentative Virtual Surrealist, which of course, in the context of this debate, is asking for trouble. Jonar speaks at universities and around the world on technology, management, thinking skills advertising and politics. He is a radio broadcaster and journalist and is author of the best selling 800 page book Prentice Hall’s ‘Illustrated Dictionary of Computing’, now in its third edition. Please welcome Jonar Nader.
Jonar Nader: Mr Chairman, thank you. Ladies and gentleman, I stand here pleading with you to please, please pull the plug. As a self confessed internet addict, I do so with mixed feelings. You know mixed feelings are like watching your mother in law driving over a cliff, in your new car. The members of the opposition don’t want to pull the plug but they have been pulling your leg, and they certainly have no problem in rearranging the truth in their favour. Listening to the first speaker’s drivel, you would swear he was chemically inconvenienced. As for our doctor, the second speaker, I’ve listened to sea shells that make better sense than that. Now let me put a bucket of cold water on the preposterous suggestion that the internet, or these computers, are somehow going to benefit the human race. For over 16 billion years the universe has evolved quite nicely, hasn’t it, without computers, and humans have survived for 2 million years without the internet thank you very much.
Now the opposition might say that computers have given us the technological marvels – like what? One hundred years ago Mr Charles Duell resigned as the head of the US patent office. In his letter of resignation he said, ‘I resign because everything that can be invented has been invented’. Well, people laughed at him but, I tell you what, I actually agree with him. Apart from scams, addictions, gambling and pornography, what has the internet done to improve the world? Nothing! Let me prove it to you. All the major developments that have somehow changed our lives were invented before computers. Medicine was introduced at 400BC, by the Greeks long before computers. The Pyramids were built 5000 years ago. The majestic Empire State Building was built even before the calculator was invented. Supersonic flight, the Concorde, the 747 and satellites were developed well before computers and the internet. Records and radio were invented in the 1800s, as were the telephone and photography. Television the other idiot box, that was invented before the integrated circuit, so pray tell, what are our deluded members of the opposition talking about? Friends, don’t be fooled into thinking that somehow computers have made things cheaper, quite the opposite. Do you know that when the model T Ford came out, it was selling the best of its kind for $300. That means in today’s terms a Ford LTD would have to sell for $5,000 not $70,000. If you think the internet will help save the environment, think again. Paper usage has soared 300% in the last 10 years. Computer manufacturers use 51 tonnes of silicone per day. All of these things dug out from the ground, killing forests and ecosystems. Each week 3000 tonnes of metal is used. As for copper wire, every month we use enough copper wire to reach the moon.
Host: Are you planning to make any jokes any time soon Jonar?
Jonar Nader: We use so much plastic each year that we can make 7 moulds of the Sydney Opera House.
Host: and 4 Pamela Andersons!
Jonar Nader: I didn’t think we used that much plastic. Now look, the goons on this side (who think we are up here to tell jokes, I’m up here to win a debate thank you very much) spoke about information. There is now a universal problem called ‘information overload’ which the doctor here gets paid to treat people for. There is more information than anyone could possibly ever sift through. Dear fellow Australians, I urge you to pull the plug before it is too late. Beware the day when your child goes down to the Christmas tree and finds his present and he unwraps it and he says, ‘Wow an idiot box. I.D.I.O.T. That stands for Intelligent Digital Internet Online Toy, and your child looks up and asks, ‘Is it for me, or am I for it?’ Beware indeed.
Before I sit down, I must tell you that I thought of a very very funny closing line. In fact it is absolutely hilarious, but I just found out that Sam the first speaker for the opposition here thought of the same line, so because we have been friends for a long time, and to show you what a good guy I am, I am going to let Sam tell you that joke and I will sit down without a laugh. Thank you very much.