Sex, Bombs and Burgers: How War, Pornography, and Fast Food Have Shaped Modern Technology

Peter Nowak. Globe Pequot/Lyons, $26.95 (392p) ISBN 978-0-7627-7274-2
In this informative and entertaining cultural study, Nowak posits that most major technological advancements made in the last century can trace their origins to porn, military science, and fast food—"the shameful trinity." Nowak explains that the pornography industry is more likely to take risks with new technology to stay ahead of the curve: the military brought the first hand-held cameras to amateurs—so that soldiers could film battles for training purposes— and the porn industry ran with it. Later, pornography companies played a crucial role in developing the internet from a text-based experience to one replete with images and video, raising resolution standards along the way. Military technology also led to food-related inventions like the microwave, Teflon, and of course Spam, which proved invaluable to the Allied troops of WWII. Nowak notes that the first real video game—Tennis for Two—was invented in 1950 at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, a facility funded by the Manhattan Project to continue nuclear research. Having been consigned by the military to build a camera-equipped robot that could explore enemy territory, the iRobot company created the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner—rather disturbingly, Nowak (and others) posit a future wherein robots will not only clean the house, but also provide sexual favors. Nowak's study of the interconnectedness of the costs and consequences of technological and cultural innovation is occasionally troubling, but consistently entertaining. Photos. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 02/06/2012
Release date: 12/01/2011
Paperback - 364 pages - 978-1-74237-431-4
Paperback - 376 pages - 978-1-74237-634-9
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-89-546-1759-8
Ebook - 392 pages - 978-0-7627-7610-8
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