Technology takes all of us for a ride sooner or later. The question is, to where?
In The Magnificent Ambersons, a 1918 novel, the car is author Booth Tarkington’s chosen vehicle for exploring the transformations wrought by technology (of which he was none too fond) and the hazards of standing in their way. The book is a joy to read, for a tragedy. It bristles with ironic wit and insight even as it reveals the terrible price of believing, in a modern market economy, that you can skate by on who you are rather than seeking rewards for what you can do.
Business readers in particular will recognize a host of themes that still bedevil us, including the revolutionary nature of innovation and the environmental costs of affluence. Most dangerous of all, in Tarkington’s view, is affluence itself, which breeds a fatal complacency in the family — frozen in