Technology thinkers fear `refuseniks'


Mon, Sep 25, 2006 - Page 12

An underclass of Internet "refuseniks" may be breeding and planning terror acts in coming years in reaction to technological advances, according to a survey released yesterday.

The poll by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, an independent think tank, involved 742 technology thinkers and stakeholders who were asked in an online survey about the effect of the Internet on social, political and economic life in the year 2020.

A majority -- 58 percent -- agreed with predictions that by 2020 tech "refuseniks" will emerge as a cultural group characterized by their choice to live off the network and that some will resort to terror acts in protest against technology.

Thirty five percent of respondents disagreed with that scenario and 7 percent had no opinion.

"Constant change will spook some into trying to slow everyone down through horrific and catastrophic terrorist attacks against the information infrastructure and all who rely upon it," said Sean Mead, of Interbrand Analytics, who took part in the survey.

Some respondents, however, warned against quickly applying labels to those who question the advance of technology.

"We need some strong dissenting voices about the impact of this technology in our lives," wrote Denzil Meyers of Widgetwonder.

The survey was conducted in conjunction with North Carolina's Elon University between last November and this past April.