I saw a 67-year-old man using a 1947 electric vacuum cleaner on television. It was bought the year he was born and has never broken. Since then of course manufacturers cottoned on to the idea of ‘planned obsolescence’, that is, building consumer goods with a limited lifespan of say 2-4 years in order to maximise profits, and ‘devices’ that are barely on the market for 9-months before they are replaced with updated models. I’m talking here about cheap white goods, entry-level computers, cell phones and some TVs, much of which is made for peanuts by cheap foreign labour. You want a microwave oven that lasts 10-years plus, then expect to pay £400+.
Personally I have no problem with this ideology, after all, you get what you pay for, however our mass consumption of throw-away electrical goods leads to massive land fills which blight the landscape and does nothing but harm to the environment. Led by the nose by slick marketing campaigns, wanting the ‘latest model’ has become a consumerist addiction. Some people believe planned obsolescence is an absurd practice because the planetary resources needed to build some of the above mentioned goods are not infinite. On the other hand, mass consumption must have gone some way towards saving our Western economies after the 2008 worldwide financial collapse. It is said, in our fragile economies, markets cannot be left to stagnate! The relationship between the manufacturer and the consumer has changed somewhat over the last 30 years or so, don’t you think?
Meanwhile, in an effort to fight planned obsolescence, the French Government has ordered manufacturers to inform consumers…before they buy…how long they can expect their electrical goods to last, with violators facing hefty fines!
My concern is AI (artificial intelligence). If AI continues to develop, how long will it be before you and I become…obsolete? So is the human race part of this long-term planned obsolescence? I think we are!