Disarming the Unabomber: Choice in the Digital Age

“What the manifesto has to say about our relationship with technology and with society is more true right now than it was when Ted published it. It’s about our relationship with our smartphones 20 years before a smartphone existed. It’s about the way technology constrains us and defines our lives, the way that when your phone dings, you answer it. It doesn’t matter that you know it’s stupid and unimportant. It doesn’t matter that there’s a person in front of you that you are talking to. You obey.”

Andrew Sodroski, executive producer of Manhunt: Unabomber

From 1978 to 1995, Ted Kaczynski mailed or hand-delivered 16 deadly bombs, killing 3 people and injuring 23 more. Kaczynski eventually offered to put an end to the bombings if a major newspaper agreed to publish his manifesto, titled Industrial Society and its Future. The FBI recommended that the Washington Post publish Kaczynski’s work in hopes that a reader would identify the author from its contents. Ted’s brother David recognized the writing and tipped off the FBI, finally leading to the Unabomber’s capture.1

It has been 12 years since the Unabomber’s capture, yet his ideas are far from forgotten. Instead, they are experiencing an unlikely renaissance.

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