Surpression of Technology!!!!

This was inspired by the GQ thread “Does the US own the moon”

Soneone in that thread mentioned that as soon as an inexpensive method of space travel was found, space would degenerate into a Wild Wild West sort of place.

My question is more down to earth…(pun intended) What would happen if someone invented a truly cheap method of transport…something along the lines of the matter transporter thingy from the movie “The Fly”…the 80’s one. Would it be widly distributed, or supressed by the Govt?

I’m not suggesting a consiprecy or anything, but think about what something like that would do to our economy?..What are your thoughts on this?..And are there other things you can think of that may benifite are race/planet, but would disrupte our economic systems?

I haven’t lost my mind, I have a tape backup around somewhere.

I’m not sure if I follow why this would hurt our economy. Generally, when a faster mode of transport has come along in the past, it has been a great economic boon.

These days, even if the government wanted to suppress it (for whatever reason), they really couldn’t. The specs would be posted on the Internet within days.

Think about it a little more…if you could go from say New York to L.A. in the blink of an eye…what would happen to the auto industry?..Tire makers?..Airlines?..People that work for Highway Depts…stuff like that…If all those people found themselves out of a job all at once…

Ok you’re right about the specs on the internet, but if you were the inventor, and you had thought about all the above, would you release them?..

I haven’t lost my mind, I have a tape backup around somewhere.

Larry Niven did a bunch of stories, including at least one murder mystery, in a world in which a firm called JumpStart, Inc., had invented a matter transporter. He worked out a fairly convincing socioeconomic basis for the world this happened in.

Probably there would be net 0 effect.

All the tiremakers, auto makers, etc would soon find themselves in jobs producing the products that would be transported, and with that kind of transportation possible there would certainly be a surge in demand as products that were usually too expensive or rare found themselves available and cheap!

Also, even if such a technology were very cheap it would take some time for it to catch on. It isn’t like very business everywhere is going to suddenly be installing transporters in their offices. In this case, the natural human tendency towards resisting change is probably a good thing.

What more could you expect from somebody who lets people kick him to the head?

“Star Trek” style transporters?
Why not dwell on more feasible technologies that we can’t quite seem to get ahold of?
Advanced solar power generation technology, for example. Or maybe those infamous “high-MPG carbs”.

If a transporter were invented, it would initially start out as a high-priced toy for the wealthy. As production became cheaper (and the bugs that sent you to L.A. while your luggage and left arm went to Houston) were worked out, it would slowly trickle down to the masses. Unless the transporter, itself, could be folded up and carried around (and expanded to handle 50,000 tons of ore), there would be specific transport sites that would need the existing transportation methods to get stuff to the transport points. These obstacles could probably be overcome and the car manufacturers reduced to building hot rods and golf carts, (some people still want to go fast and others don’t want to walk while taking their exercise), but this would take time. This would give the big manufacturing firms time to diversify. Some would fail, others would thrive.

I don’t think that even a cultural-overthrowing invention would be suppressed, because the people who can see the revolution coming and the people who want to control our daily lives are generally not the same people.

(If the invention worked like a Star Trek transporter that only needed a single terminus, then the military might want to restrict it so that they could hypermail their bombs to Tehran without fearing a special delivery to the Pentagon from Saddam Hussein.)


History shows that we have always embraced new technology, regardless of the consequences. As an example, the Jaquard loom put hand weavers out of business. Throwing their wooden shoes at the machinery didn’t change anything. Numerous other examples abound, from steam engines to E-Mail. Jobs are lost, new jobs are created.

Where are the steno pools of yesteryear? The cobblers? The blacksmiths?

There is no mechanism in place to suppress technology. Never has been, in my opinion.

Now if only the oil companies released the drawings for that 200mpg carburator…

If you’re hot, that’s good.
If you’re cool, that’s good.

I don’t get it.

Oh really?..So there are no industrial jobs that are still being performed in a less than effective manner?..I don’t want to get into a huge debate about Union’s, but I personally believe that the auto union’s are what keep the prices of cars so high…I can’t belive that it cost me about 1/3 the amount to buy a new car as it does to buy a house…My point is that saying that we have always embraced new technology no matter what the cost is just not true.

I haven’t lost my mind, I have a tape backup around somewhere.

WallyM7 wrote:

That just makes me want to burst out into a rousing chorus from Camelot! :

<BLOCKQUOTE>Where are the steno pools of yesteryear?
Where are all the adoring, daring girls?
Where’s the shorthand that stole my heart,
The legal pads shaped like a pop-tart,
Oh, where are a steno’s simple joys?</BLOCKQUOTE>

Oh, and those 100 MPG+ carburetors? Unsubstantiated conspriacy theories, nothing more.

Quick-N-Dirty Aviation: Trading altitude for airspeed since 1992.


The actual price ratio for U.S. cars vs houses is about 1:5 (depending on where you live in the U.S.) which is about what it has always cost for a mid-range car and a modest 3-bedroom house. (Cars have varied between 1/6 and 1/4 of the price of a house for over fifty years.) (Where can you find a house for $36k - $54k?)

I’m sure that the real answer is that cars would cost the same as houses if the costs of houses weren’t inflated by those darned carpenters, electricians, and plumbers. :wink:


I think cars should cost more than houses. After all, you can live in your car, but you can’t drive your house.

“Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.”

  • Bertrand Russell

I’m in a linking mood today.

Re the 200mpg carb:

“The world ends when I die. And as far as I’m concerned, the rest of the universe might as well call it a day too.” – Matt Groening

That’s a nice link about the 200-mpg carb. While reading it, I had an idea: He points out that much of the wasted energy in the engine is due to lost heat. Why can’t that heat be put to good use, such as charging the battery on a gas/electric hybrid car? Or just charging a miscellaneous battery which I can run some appliances with when I get home?

Would it really be so hard to connect that hot antifreeze liquid to some kind of generator instead of fanning it into the environment?

I didn’t want this to be a thread about the auto industry, just using that as an example. By the way, where do you buy your cars that you can get a new car for <$20,000?
Which would make the 1/3 thing come out to about $60,000 more than enough to buy a nice house where I live. Since we’re talking about cars, I notice everyone talking about inproving the internal combustion engine…can’t tell me that’s the only practical way of moving a car…if that were the case, we’d still be heating our house’s with firewood.

And the example of house’s costing less, is in part true, but I can’t very well automate a consruction site…but you can almost totaly automate a car assembly plant.

Again, I’m not a believer of conspriacy theories either, that wasn’t the OP.

Guess I’m the only one that thinks this would be a problem…(shrug)…ok…Thanks for everyone’s input.

I haven’t lost my mind, I have a tape backup around somewhere.

Actually, it’s the cost of houses that is way too high. Autos are a miracle of efficient construction compared to the average house. Zoning laws and construction permits are maintained in large part through efforts by contractors, labor unions, etc.

Many companies have tried to innovate in housing with things like pre-fabricated walls made of plastics with integrated buses for electrical and water and such. One such design was scrapped because they couldn’t get their press-fit plumbing connections approved, even though all tests showed them to be superior to threaded connections. But a threaded connection requires a plumber to thread it.

If you built a car like you build a house, you’d hire a journeyman welder to weld you up a frame, then you’d hire a mechanic to add the brake lines, then hire a sheetmetal guy to build a body, etc. Your car would probably be 1/10 the quality and cost $500,000.

As for the instantaneous transporter - transportation costs are a significant percentage of the total cost for all goods. If you could get rid of that, the economy would be MUCH wealthier. There would be temporary displacement, but the overall wealth would skyrocket.

Atrael wrote:

Saturn S-series, Ford Escort, Toyota Corolla (or Tercel, if they still make it).

Not exactly the peppiest, most luxurious cars on the road, but they get you from point A to point B without breaking down. (Except for the Ford. :slight_smile: )

Quick-N-Dirty Aviation: Trading altitude for airspeed since 1992.

Tracer, I’ve been singing your version of Camelot’s chorus for two hours and it’s getting on my wife’s nerves.

Just wanted to say thanks.

Where are the steno pools…

If you’re hot, that’s good.
If you’re cool, that’s good.

I don’t get it.

Scott Adams (aka Dilbert) on Star Trek technology, specifically the transporter:

I don’t think I’ve violated any copyright laws here; this showed up in my eMail in-box (and about five million others) one day. If you want the read the rest of the newsletter, go to , and you can sign up to have it automatically delivered from there, too.