If you are me, it is when reading things like this comment by Michael Foody on a Marginal Revolution blog entry about Brita water filter that detects and orders replacement filters.
Using disposable consumer goods to solve ever smaller problems seems like a good long term strategy for innovation. We’ve been deep into diminishing returns ever since we got safe clean hot or cold water at home for practically no money by turning a knob. What’s stagnated isn’t technology, it’s technology’s ability to improve the quality of life of this particular primate. Once won’t starve or die of exposure and will probably live within 15 years of maximum lifespan of your species, might as well boil the earth in a doomed quest to outrun boredom with zero sum status competition.