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.

  • Dec 9 2011: I dont think any invention should be supressed. Even if jobs were lost, progress will create more jobs. Take the combine harvester for an instance, that put most farm workers out of work, and yet where would we be without it? We could'nt afford bread, that'd be for certain.
    And by using speakers to whisper somebodys ear may be the norm in a few years. If you took a picture from people 200 years ago they thought you trapped their soul and would burn you at the stake. Its called progress, and no body, be it govermental or public, should inhibit this growth.
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    Dec 7 2011: Governments will always have access to what inventions have been invented, and they will always use it to their millitary and strategic advantage, not just against enemies, but against their own people... Thus, I believe it is only fair to give the same access of information to young brilliant thinkers, that you give the government, and thus I believe no invention should be suppressed and I believe many great ones have been. I trust that people that want the human species to live will always outcompete those who want it to die, naturally... This view could lead to the destruction of the world though, so luckily or unluckily, depending on your faith in humanity, I'm not one of the people entrusted with that decision.
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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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    Dec 7 2011: Yes. I think an invention which could instantaneously and irreversibly terminate all biological processes in the universe should be suppressed and locked-away with the soapless washing machine, the 100 mpg carburetor, and the 150,000 mile car tire.
    There must be other examples of inventions which would have such a profound negative effect on the status quo that more people would benefit from its suppression than would be deprived by it.