Merchant: The worst tech products of 2023

The holiday season is marked by a flood of wishlists, gift guides, and flashy sales of products vying for our attention and money. In the 21st century, many of these products are tech gadgets ranging from wearables and AI-infused devices to app-controlled fire pits, leaving many feeling overwhelmed.

With the abundance of tech-focused holiday lists, one writer had a thought: what if we considered the opposite and wished away certain tech products? This line of thinking, influenced by the Luddite movement of 19th-century textile workers, led to the organization of Luddite Tribunals, where tech products were scrutinized, and if deemed detrimental to society, were smashed with a sledgehammer.

From these discussions and events, a list of the worst tech of the year has emerged. This list includes products such as Amazon Ring doorbells, Uber’s Business model, generative AI, remote attestation, 23andMe genetic testing, and the concentration of power in big tech companies. Each of these items is criticized not for the core Technology, but for how it is used and how it impacts society.

Many experts and commentators have weighed in on the issue. For instance, columnist Edward Ongweso Jr. believes that the Amazon Ring surveillance camera negatively impacts privacy and community dynamics. Professor Veena Dubal criticizes Uber’s Business model for exploiting workers through surveillance and algorithmic control. Author and journalist Paris Marx expresses concern about the impact of generative AI on creative professions and marginalized communities. These opinions reflect a growing sentiment that Technology is often misused, leading to potentially harmful and far-reaching consequences.

In considering a reader’s choice edition of the worst tech of the year, the readers are encouraged to share their thoughts on what tech products would make their list. The goal is to start conversations and engage in meaningful dialogue on the impact of Technology in our lives.

This reflection on the worst tech of the year takes a critical look at consumerism’s influence on Technology and prompts readers to consider the broader implications of our relationship with tech products. This approach carries on the tradition of the Luddite movement by evaluating not just the Technology itself, but the societal implications of its use. As we enter the holiday season, perhaps this is an apt time to consider the role of Technology in our lives and its impact on society.

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