Facing exaggerated and frightening images of an impending Singularity and an over-dependency on robots, some people have decided that the best solution is to go back to the beginning—destroy a significant portion of modern technology and start over. This idea is often known as neo-luddism, and its proponents are called neo-luddites. Neo-luddism ranges from the thought that technology is philosophically bad to the thought that it should be totally destroyed.
The original Luddites lived in England in the years A.D. 1811-1816. In 1811, wages dropped by half as prices rose by nearly 90% due to the French blockade that lead up to the War of 1812. At the same time, crops failed from the years 1809-1812. Many factory workers, faced with the threat of poverty, attacked the machinery they had previously built and worked with. Much of the machinery and several businesses were destroyed. They got their name from their presumed leader, Ned Ludd, although there were several men who claimed to be him.
There is no official neo-luddite community, and few would label themselves a member of the group. Among the few however, is Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber. In his Unabomber’s Manifesto, he outlines the problems humanity faces as a result of the Industrial Revolution, including the destabilization and hardships faced in third-world countries and the creation of artificial needs previously unknown to man. Another self-proclaimed Luddite is Nichols Fox, a non-violent activist who claims in his book, Against the Machine, that humans and machines are inherently incompatible and machinery causes a tremendous amount of unnecessary stress.
A common fear is that mankind will become completely dependent on technology. The more technologically dependent we are, the more dangerous a system failure or malicious software becomes. Many people do not want to see the consequences of a failure at that level, particularly as the technology advances and we become more dependent on it. Luddites also dislike the loosening of family ties and the loss of “real” community, as they see “virtual” communication beginning to supersede all other forms.
According to Francis Fukuyama, a professor of International Political Economy at John Hopkins University in America, people are better able to trust people they talk to in real life—any distrust would come after an extended relationship. With the Internet, it's just the reverse. Over the Internet, one starts out distrusting the other person, as you cannot see who you are talking to—any trust would come after an extended relationship. In addition, the Luddites see the separation between first-world and third-world countries growing as technology advances, predicting that the gap will not only be impossible to bridge, but it will widen and more and more people will fall into the third-world category.
Those who disagree with these claims feel that fear of the technology failing is a poor reason not to try it. Furthermore, they believe that our immersion into cyberspace can be used for good and to do so does not mean we have to sever our ties with real-world communities. They also predict that the technology will eventually spread to third-world countries, lessening the notion of the Luddites perceived ‘gap’.