TED Conversations

David Barnett

British Council


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Should some inventions be suppressed?

The idea that you can now whisper something into the ear of someone sitting half a mile away and make him/her think that they are mad, is somewhat disturbing and distressing. Should, therefore, these inventions be suppressed or restricted?

Also, if an invention means the disappearance of thousands of jobs, then should we make sure that the invention remains out of the marketplace? For example, some years ago, I heard on the news that someone had invented a washing machine which didn't use detergent, used only a fraction of the water and got the clothes cleaner. Where is it now? Obviously detergent manufacturers got together and made the inventor an offer he couldn't refuse. Bad for the environment....great for thousands of jobs.


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    Dec 7 2011: I believe that some things should be supressed. The key questions is by what mechanism should something be suppressed? Should something be suppressed by a governing body? Or should the free market suppress an idea as amoral or destructive?

    I believe the answer lies in the "how" more than the "if".

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