Do You Fear Technology?

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) recently launched nominations for their 2014 Luddite Awards. The Luddite Awards are designed to highlight programs and initiatives that inhibit society’s technological progress.

ITIF nominated ten organizations or people that have done the most to inhibit innovation in 2014. Based on a public vote, ITIF will announce the Worst Luddite of 2014 on February 5. So who are the nominees? Below is the list, and you can read a full description of them in a report by ITIF President, Robert Atkinson.

  • The National Rifle Association Opposes Smart Guns
  • The Vermont Legislature Passes Law Requiring GMO Food Labeling
  • Arizona, Michigan, New Jersey, and Texas Take Action to Prevent Tesla From Opening Stores to Sell Cars Directly to Consumers
  • The French Government Stops Amazon From Providing Free Shipping on Books
  • “Stop Smart Meters” Seeks To Stop Smart Innovation in Meters and Cars
  • Free Press Lobbies for Rules to Stop Innovation in Broadband Networks
  • New York State Cracks Down on Airbnb and its Hosts
  • Virginia and Nevada Take On Ride Sharing
  • The Media and Pundits Claiming That “Robots” Are Killing Jobs
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Opposition to Health IT

So what exactly does it mean to be a Luddite? The ITIF report announcing the nominees explores what Luddite does, and does not mean. ITIF explains that the term “Luddite,” comes from Englishman Ned Ludd. Ludd led a movement in the 19th Century to destroy mechanized looms, fearing that the Industrial Revolution was going to ruin society, and feared advances in technology.

“Ludditism is not, as many people assume, a term for someone who is a late adopter of technology or who isn’t proficient with the latest technological gadgets,” says the report. “Rather, a Luddite is someone who opposes technological change, seeking to hold back the introduction of new technologies into society, regardless of whether or not they use the technology.”

In a modern context, the ITIF argues that Luddites no longer seek to destroy materials, but they are culprits of something else: bad ideas. “Neo-Luddites have worked to convince the public and policy makers alike that technological innovation is something to be thwarted,” says the report.

“Ludditism is growing and this is a problem not only because it reduces support for innovation, but because Luddites increasingly attempt to use the power of government to throw sand in the gears of progress or to stop government from supporting progress, slowing technological transformation of society,” said the ITIF report.

So who is going to be the top Luddite of 2014? Make sure to cast your vote, and don’t forget to check the results on February 5. And if you’re looking for some non-Luddites and innovators in government, be sure to take a look at our end of year report: 30 Innovations That Mattered in 2014.

Photo Credit: FlickR Creative Commons, Connor Turner.


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Thanks for the knowledge. As an advocate for integrating technology in learning environments, this is good information to know.

Dijon N. Rolle

Nice work Patrick. Definitely learned something new.Will be interesting to see who is going to take home the top prize 🙂