Hello, Switchers -- thank you for another lovely week of feedback. Here are a few of our favorite comments.
Our own Timothy B. Lee took a deep dive look at the first Internet malware, the Morris worm, on its 25th birthday Friday. Reader chl7975 suggested the story should make people think twice about the possible outcomes of their experiments:
A key question we must always ask ourselves is not whether we can do something, but whether we should. Robert Morris was motivated by the same intellectual curiosity our atomic scientists at Los Alamos had. Whether it was a computer worm or an atomic bomb, it wasn't so much if it was possible to create such a thing, but whether they should create it. Scientists currently working on autonomous killer robots should ask themselves the same question.
Readers responding to Brian Fung's coverage of the successor to the SR-71 Blackbird shared similar sentiments. "Just because we can do something, doesn't mean we have too or that we should," argued jcinnb, adding " how many teachers, meals, water, renewable energy could the money spent on these planes, with no real mission, provide?" Reader Cpt.Hook seconded the argument, quoting President Dwight D. Eisenhower's "The Chance for Peace" speech:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. […] Is there no other way the world may live?
Saturday, the Switch took a look at how the rise of social media may have meant the death of Google's personalized homepage service iGoogle. Reader poutine wasn't optimistic the move would drive iGoogle users to Google+:
"Welp, they killed iGoogle, I'd better start heavily using Google+." - No one, ever.
Killing iGoogle has accomplished two things: it undermines confidence in the longevity of Google's cloud-based services, and it drives formerly-happy Google users into the arms of competitors. They're clearly grasping at straws trying to drive usage of Google+: closing popular services they feel compete with it, rearranging icons to put Google+ first, and forcing Youtube and Android users to create Google+ profiles.
Hopefully, in a few years when Google+ gets unceremoniously shut down, Google can get back to building great products that "organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful", instead of trying to play Facebook dress-up.