Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences

In This Review

Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences

By Edward Tenner
Alfred A. Knopf, 1996
346 pp. $26.00
Purchase

Not quite a Luddite tract, but certainly a darkly whimsical account of how technological progress has a way of turning nasty. The theme has been ably handled in Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times and numerous episodes of The Twilight Zone, not to mention some brilliant science fiction stories by Arthur C. Clarke. But the author, former science editor at Princeton University Press, brings to bear a wealth of detail on everything from the vast increase in paper consumed in offices since the advent of computers to the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections. There are lessons here for development in poorer countries, and on the perils of some advanced military technology, but the reader will have to extrapolate them for himself or herself.