Technology:
The Doom of Civilization?*

…and we also know that almost every person, including children, was issued a device that enabled them to see and hear one another, however far apart in the world they might be; that these devices were small enough to be carried in the palm of one’s hand; that they gave instant access to all the knowledge and music and opinions and writings in the world; and that in due course they displaced human memory and reasoning and even normal social intercourse [emphasis added]—an enabling  and narcotic power that some say drove their possessors mad, to the extent that their introduction marked the beginning of the end of advanced civilization.”—Robert Harris, The Second Sleep, p. 145

My Good Lady, a technological Luddite, had been reading an alternative history novel, The Second Sleep by Robert Harris, and pointed out, with some satisfaction,  the quote above to me.  She has not used, is not now using, and pledges never to use cell phones.

I read the novel after she finished.   It’s an homage (with some twists) to Walter Miller’s, “A Canticle for Leibowitz.” Rather than the Roman Catholic Church in America, it is the Anglican Church in England that preserves order after an apocalyptic wipeout of civilization as we now know it.  Moreover, in “A Canticle for Leibowitz,” the Catholic Church (the Order of St. Leibowitz) preserves scientific knowledge (even though it doesn’t understand it), whereas in “The Second Sleep” the Anglican Church represses “Antiquarianism,” attempts to recover or renew scientific and technological knowledge.

I won’t say more about the book or even given my opinion of its literary merit.  Go to the link given in the quote and you’ll see summaries and a variety of ratings.   Rather, I’ll use the alternative future history presented in “The Second Sleep” to put the question: does technology kill culture?

THE QUESTION: DOES TECHNOLOGY KILL CULTURE?

Most of you reading this article will not remember a time when there was no TV and fewer perhaps, a time when there were no smart phones.  Born in 1930, I grew up reading and listening to the radio–no TV.  My first experience with TV was at Caltech and that didn’t distract  from bridge, work, beer and other amusements of nerdy underclassmen.

My Good Lady and I restricted television time for our children and being near Toronto, they could focus their TV attention to  “wholesome” Canadian programs (e.g. “The Friendly Giant”).  (Canadians do have that outstanding virtue of being nice!)  We paid them a penny a page to read and that habit continued with all five. Has that tradition continued with our grandchildren?  Not so much.

Five or ten years ago, we would play board games with visiting grandchildren, see them reading.  One of my daughters prohibited computers, tablets, smart phones, etc., until her children were over six and into first grade.  These are the ones who still read (occasionally).  Now our birthday and Christmas gifts of books are received with polite thanks and little enthusiasm.  Most of the 11 who visit now spend their time on video games,  either on Xbox or on smartphones. Very occasionally they talk to each other.  We don’t interfere.

IS UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO INFORMATION ALL THAT VALUABLE?

Again, pardon the reminiscences of a cranky old physicist.  It is true, as the quote suggests, that information of all sorts is now easily available to us.  In researching material for my new ebook, “Mysteries: Quantum & Theological,” web resources were invaluable, and there are lots of links in the book to confirm that.  I think back 55 years when I spent two weeks prowling the corridors of the Carnegie Tech Library trying to find the article by Schwinger that I needed to understand a particular application of density matrix techniques.

During the Second Week of Christmas I could turn to DivineOffice.org to find out which hymn, psalms, antonyms and readings were to be used for Morning Prayer. (This wasn’t always clear in the “Shorter Christian Prayer” little book I usually use.)  I can go to YouTube to play Bjorling’s and Merrill’s moving duet from Les Pescheurs or hear Bill W talk about his voyage from the pits to sobriety, rather than go to a concert or a 12 Step meeting.  And you, dear reader, can follow the links and do the same.

Now these shortcuts are fine.  They make life easy.  But ebooks don’t really replace a book, the feel, the heft of it in your hand.  YouTube is great, but YouTube can’t replace a Mass, receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord, no matter how impressive the liturgy, the music, and the recorded homily might be.   YouTube can’t replace a live concert experience, hearing the Chorus and Orchestra intone the majestic 2nd movement of Brahm’s German Requiem.

THE VERDICT?

So, what’s the verdict?  I call for an informal poll:  should we abolish the internet?  Or wait and let civilization takes it spiral downward?

NOTE

*The featured image, the juicy apple with the superimposed image of you-know-who’s logo was inspired by another quote from “The Second Sleep.” The protagonist, a young priest sent to deliver a eulogy for a dead, heretical priest (an “Antiquarian”) finds an old cell phone in the dead priest’s desk:

“He turned it over.  On the back was the ultimate symbol of the ancients’ hubris and blasphemy—an apple with a bite taken out of it.” Robert Harris, “The Second Sleep,” p.22

So, did Steve Jobs harken back to The Fall and the Tree of Knowledge in choosing the logo for his new personal computer?

More to explorer

20 Comments

  1. But ebooks don’t really replace a book, the feel, the heft of it in your hand

    Nor does a book replace the feel of a scroll, nor a scroll of a tablet.

    The ebook does, however, replace the experience of reading to the point that I’ve seen my mom squint for a moment, tap the book page a couple of times, and then start laughing– because her “ebook” didn’t highlight and define a term. Or her eyes get tired, so she tries to punch the paper to increase text size.
    My dad is back to reading almost as much as he did in the Army, with the tablet; if he falls asleep reading, he doesn’t lose his place.

    All of my kids have been using “screens” since they were small; the first dedicated computer was when the eldest was 3, although we had learning programs on the TV before that. Through the Livingroom TV– screen use is social with us.

    Has it done anything to their book reading?

    The librarian got the giggles when I ended up punishing the kids for not taking care of a library book by limiting them to three books each. And yes, they demanded if they could check out books “for” the three that are not up to reading for themselves, yet. They get more ILLs than the local school kids combined.

    My kids have also borrowed my phone on long trips because their tablets ran out of juice, and they wanted to finish the book they’d been reading. (Anyone wishing to opine that books never run out of power has clearly not traveled with a car full of small children that you want to run and play during stops; drinks and books mix poorly, plus we have limited space. Only one suitcase of books, plus any they can fit in lesson bags.)

    We restrict specific games, and shows, and it’s not entirely along “must be educational” lines. It’s “must not be actively destructive.”

    The kids do a lot of their lessons online, too, thanks to Education.com and Khan Academy.
    (The eldest has decent cursive, at 10; the second has henscratch that makes it clear she inherited mine and also needs to work on fine motor control– which we already knew from mouse control issues, compared to her sister– and everyone younger than that is slightly ahead on penmanship.)

    I suspect a lot of the problems come from kids learning from teachers who don’t, themselves, use technology for learning. The kids that were at the football party yesterday (holy crud, Kansas City!) were well behaved, used technology respectfully, and have the kind of parents that when I was a kid would tell you you’re not allowed to read when you’re visiting people, but now will tell you no tablets or listening to music with headphones on, too, and they actually have enough social interaction outside of school for it to stick.


    While I understand the need for a story-hook, the scifi writer got it wrong:
    the ability to look stuff up has vastly increased what folks know. It has also, though, very much pissed off the folks who could previously make stuff up on the fly and bull over opposition– the “bullshitters,” I think they were termed in a shared link here a few months back.

    The culture is splitting up some– but it’s along the lines of the stories we tell, and choose. There’s going to be sub-groups, I’ve frequently compared video game groups to a bowling team, but they’re able to chat with all other “bowling team” type groups even it’s not the same game, much less the same guild.
    Heck, I can explain some of the stuff to you– you don’t have to know that Louisoix Leveilleur is an Elezen, or what the heck an “elder Primal” might be to understand that the grandkids of a guy who died saving the world are going to be highly motivated to follow in his footsteps. (Final Fantasy 14, a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game.) You really don’t have to even know the sub-story to understand another sub-story with the summary of it is the duty of the strong to protect the weak, although the sub-story make the point very well.

  2. The internet is but a small part of technology. I do not believe that the internet, by itself, is destroying civilization but, I am of the position that technology is a potent two edged sword and how technology is used can be negative or positive. I tend to see it in the negative, in the big picture. But, I am a Pessimist via first hand experience.

  3. I beg the hosts’ pardons, but this gets into a theory I have been concocting which I call: “the asshole threshold.” The basics of it are that the longer two humans interact with each other, the odds of them getting angry with each other approach 1.

    The natural tendency will then be for the humans to split apart unless there is some force forcing them to overcome their anger. If that force is lacking or insufficient, then the human group will split apart and the relationship fracture. For examples:

    Siblings – They may fight, but the parents aren’t going to disown them and as children, they can’t survive on their own. Thus they end up crossing over the asshole threshold and resolving their fight. At least until they are older and then able to survive on their own – at which point you might see the siblings separate.

    Spouses – The promise of marriage as well as cultural pressures can force a couple to resolve their conflict. As cultural pressures lessen, we see more marriages splitting apart.

    Lodges – When these social groups were utilized as a private-entity solution to healthcare costs, conflicts would have to be resolved so everyone could keep their insurance. As jobs & government have taken over healthcare, the need is lessened and so have the lodges of old.

    What nobody wants to admit is that, for better or for worse, technology has given us greater alternatives when it comes to mental needs. Once upon a time, if you wanted to fight boredom, you would have to suck it up and go make peace with the other members of the chess club. Now? You can go on steam and play billions of computer games without ever interacting with another person. Is your best friend just being the worst? Log onto one of a dozen social media sites and you can find all sort of new, better friends that will claim to love you.

    You never have to worry about swallowing or wounding your pride ever again.

    The only catch is that it was only by sticking together and having those social bonds be forged in the fires of overcoming anger was society, friendships, and families ever formed. Now that we can always opt out we can find nothing permanent, nothing real in our lives. That is why society is falling.

    As ever with man, the problem with technology is that it enables our sinful natures, and the internet enables the worst of those.

  4. Foxfier and Nate, you both make good arguments for the internet being beneficial. I guess it comes down to, as with lots of other stuff, how we as humans use a tool. A hammer can be used for building or as an assault instrument.

  5. Nate-
    I think there’s something to your theory, but I don’t think it’s an issue with technology.
    Rather, since at least Saul Alinsky’s book, there’s been a formal method of fighting that depends on abusing the tool our culture used to overcome the a-hole threshold in general interactions; the internet allows you to bypass or even overcome those exploiters.
    My mom ended up leaving several groups because they were taken over by toxic personalities– internet was really not an option, she just left for different social groups. In a small town, at that. (Dad’s socializing was all either work, family or the volunteer fire department, which had a very strong leadership.)

    Marriage and Lodges have both been hurt by the “sexual revolution”– redefine marriage to be about sex, demand that women be able to support themselves and any children they have by themselves, denigrate women’s work, and the support structure is destroyed.
    An IRL example of the difference between viewing a marriage as a team and a marriage as two people– when I was a kid, there was a guy who every year put on “awesome” BBQs to promote his company. Quite literally, the only thing he did for preparation was to stand next to the grill and serve off of it. Selecting the meat, making the marinade, cutting the meat, hauling it out to the grill when it was time to cook it, setting the timer for it to be turned, making the salads and snacks and sides and beans and… you get the idea. The husband wouldn’t so much as say “Oh, I couldn’t set this up without my dear wife’s hard work!”
    She finally got tired of it, did a year where the only things she did was stuff that she actually kind of liked doing– I seem to remember it was some of the snack trays. Ordered the rest. Her husband never did the BBQ again, it cost too much, and the result was nowhere near as awesome. (I got to hear about this because my mom can’t not help, and ended up showing up to be support for a couple of years, including clean-up.)
    She, of course, had a job, and they had the required two kids. Which were her “job,” too, unless the dad was doing Dad Things like a yearly hunting trip, etc. (They were older than me, signed up for everything, had their own cars, and she basically only cooked fancy– but if someone had to go get the kids, do doctor appointments, whatever….)

    Vs the old folks who were still doing BBQs when I was a kid, not even to promote anything, but because they were the VFW– the guys worked hard, did actual help, and also made sure to brag on how much good their wives did. A lot of them worked, at least part time, though by the time I knew them they had grandkids so I don’t know how it looked way back when.
    But the social viewpoint was that the marriage was a team, and if you have an awesome wife/husband, that reflected on you.
    Now, my husband gets all kinds of junk– even from family– for having an at-home wife. I’ve had multiple folks be shocked that I’m a stay at home, because I’m “obviously intelligent.”
    (Deflection option if you have homeschooled children: “I remember what trouble I gave teachers when I was a kid, on accident; I’m not putting some poor teacher through that, and it’s much less frustrating for the kids!)

    Society is failing because we’re half a century to a century into folks actively attacking the root of society, being the Christian-culture families.
    (Depends on if you’re looking at Alinsky era or the Communist nothing-outside-the-state push.)

  6. Hi Bob,
    I think it was G.K. Chesterton who said… “new roads, new ruts”
    The invention of the car and then the “superhighway” has resulted in how many deaths and how much damage? They aren’t going away any time soon and they do have their advantages as well.

    I think there may an upside to smartphones and social media no one speaks of (that I’ve heard).

    I grew up in the 1970’s. When we were board, we found trouble. One summer we had a pyromania stage; we set different things on fire to see how they would burn. I remember on one occasion we nearly burned down the neighborhood. Another summer a kid in our neighborhood seemed to have an endless supply of firecrackers. We blew up many things, including living things like insects and frogs. And there were many other stupid and dangerous things.

    I have not observed or heard of my kids, our friends’ kids or the neighbors’ kids doing such things. Maybe the phones keep them out of trouble at times.

  7. My guess is it’s blessing and bane. My sons, who know nothing but a world of smartphones and social media, have concluded that the Internet is overall sometimes good, sometimes bad. Social media is usually bad, with some good. I think most things, especially in a mass production age, are a case of good and bad, rather than either/or.

    My personal hunch is that the early days of the scientific/industrial/tech revolutions produced major leaps forward that, no matter their side effects, brought benefits to humanity that far outweighed any negatives. I think we either have, or are approaching, a point where all the breakthroughs and the corresponding benefits are beginning to be outpaced by the side effects.

    For example, if kids don’t go out and cause trouble today for want of something to do, they don’t go out – period. Many are almost aghast at the thought of dealing with real people. That’s something that more and more who deal with kids are testifying to. When the news reported that there was going to be some people-less grocery store opening, a couple of the youth they interviewed said great, the less they have to deal with people the better. I don’t think that’s a net positive. I don’t think anything coming out of the modern tech boon can counter the negative of a generation growing up to embrace the idea that people are best avoided (if not eliminated). Even a smartphone that can produce an 8 picture collage rather than a 6 picture collage.

  8. Recently I have noticed how rude people are in their comments online. I started calling this technology 666. Drugs, the “If it feels good, do it” Hippies perhaps was a start of rudeness, but it seems worse now.

    It’s brought out the worst in some, civility and decency are mostly gone. Some movies, music and games also added to the mix.

    Now it’s been spread throughout the world and even the press lies.
    666

  9. Bob-
    funny you should mention that….
    The start of my bypass/overcome theory was that some of my relatives were talking about how so-and-so was just so incredibly rude on facebook.
    Boggled my mind, because so-and-so was behaving exactly the way so-and-so always did. Right down to the exact phrasing, and the bad reactions if someone disagreed.
    So I started watching– in person, so-and-so would say a thing, and two minutes later act like if it was offensive it was the speaker’s fault. Which I eventually recognized as the infamous “I’m sorry you got upset” non-apology we’ve all seen from famous folks. If you absolutely pinned them on what they had said, they would wiggle out with “well, I didn’t mean it that way” and “it doesn’t matter that much” and the person who dared not totally accept what they’d said in the first place was left looking like a jerk.
    In text? They couldn’t do that. What they had said was right there. They lost their ability to effectively use the “I didn’t mean that” dodge– the statement was right there. So easy to clarify what they HAD meant.
    At which point they got really, really angry.

    There are some folks who are quite rude– very deliberately, even. Like the guy thumping shoulders with you in passing as a stupid monkey dance, it makes them feel powerful.
    There’s folks who’ve gotten away with not being held accountable for what they said (looks meaningfully at politicians, actors and other charismatic folks) because of a very high in person social ability, and it’s shaped how they communicate.
    There’s also a simple mis-match of communication styles, and misunderstandings, and simple folks in a bad mood or hitting a sore spot, where it’s not actually rudeness, it’s a failure-to-match-expectations. (Which happens face to face, too, I’ve been told I’ve got lovely manners and heard that I’m rude…for behavior around folks who viewed how I should treat them very differently.)

    In case it’s not clear by now, this is one of my favorite subjects. Or at least one that I think about a lot. 😀

  10. By the way, sorry I didn’t write it down first– Bob K, that is a really nice article illustration.
    Caught my eye, looks nice, and worked well with the story.

  11. Foxfier and Nate, you both make good arguments for the internet being beneficial.

    Really? I thought I was being fairly damning.

    Marriage and Lodges have both been hurt by the “sexual revolution”– redefine marriage to be about sex, demand that women be able to support themselves and any children they have by themselves, denigrate women’s work, and the support structure is destroyed.

    Yeah, Foxfier, and as pointed out by many, the sexual revolution was only enabled by the pill and the car. Now the internet can poor gasoline on the fire as you don’t even have to have met the person you’re having an affair with.

    Society is failing because we’re half a century to a century into folks actively attacking the root of society, being the Christian-culture families.
    (Depends on if you’re looking at Alinsky era or the Communist nothing-outside-the-state push.)

    But their effectiveness of attack depends upon the context. For example: imagine a cliche caveman situation. Now how far do you think feminist rhetoric will go in this situation? Any women who heed their ideas will try hunting once, realize it really sucks, and immediately look for a husband. I’m quite aware of this as my mother’s family had only 1 boy – the youngest child, which meant growing up, the girls had to help on the farm. She was quite content to let my father do the farmwork. (And less you think she was just a housewife – no, she’s worked in nursing for longer than I’ve been alive – feminism existed on the frontier long before anyone marched for it.)

    There are consequences to bad choices – consequences which instruct and teach man his errant ways. Technology can help one delay or avoid those consequences. Thus Alinsky is only effective nowadays because tech has given his ideas shelter from reality. And I say this as someone who loves that technology has lowered infant mortality – but it’s hard not to notice that some ideas never gain traction in societies until they have reached a certain comfort level.

    Recently I have noticed how rude people are in their comments online. I started calling this technology 666.

    There’s a classic webcomic from Penny Arcade expressing the same idea, Bob, only they called it the “G.I.F.T.” theory. I’ll let you look it up since I can’t spell it out here.

  12. “Greater Internet F***wad Theory” should be safe enough, conveys the idea.
    It goes: “Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total (jerk)”
    Ironically enough, while it’s a joke– it is pretty telling that it is basically half-excusing the behavior of the guys who write the comic. No, they’re not horrible, but it’s pretty clear that a lot of their personal “brakes” are based off of face-to-face/emotional reactions, rather than having a philosophical basis.


    For example: imagine a cliche caveman situation. Now how far do you think feminist rhetoric will go in this situation? Any women who heed their ideas will try hunting once, realize it really sucks, and immediately look for a husband.

    It’s actually built on the cliche caveman situation without the classic magically appearing as full adults alone in their own cave so beloved of classic comic strips– where you are nothing without the tribe.
    “Everything in the [group], nothing outside the [group], nothing against the [group].”
    So how do you get bigger? By having more power– more people depending on you. You can do that by working hard, or by making sure they have no options.

    It’s telling how much of the communist/feminist/left wing “freedom’ stuff ends up meaning you’re free of all possible options or choices that aren’t pre-approved.
    Of course, the early, actual feminists noticed how the “sexual freedom” basically meant that cads and users were free to do what they want, and everybody else was free to suffer.

    (And less you think she was just a housewife – no, she’s worked in nursing for longer than I’ve been alive – feminism existed on the frontier long before anyone marched for it.)

    It’s funny how folks always assume it’s “just” a housewife, eh? My grandmothers were a reporter and a court stenographer; further up, the ones I know of, the “just a house wife” was far scarier– she’s the one who was a Terry Pratchett style Nanny Og and decided the family would be coming to the US. So we came to the US… even being “just” a ranch wife is a heck of a lot of very dangerous work, says the gal who grew up getting up at oh-lord-it’s-dark to help drag half-dead calves into the bathtub and thaw them. (and that is way after modern tech made it so cooking is EASY!– and yet most families still would rather pay quite a bit to have others do it, AKA eating out)

  13. Ironically enough, while it’s a joke– it is pretty telling that it is basically half-excusing the behavior of the guys who write the comic. No, they’re not horrible, but it’s pretty clear that a lot of their personal “brakes” are based off of face-to-face/emotional reactions, rather than having a philosophical basis.

    Plato proposed the same with the Ring of Gyges.

    It’s actually built on the cliche caveman situation without the classic magically appearing as full adults alone in their own cave so beloved of classic comic strips– where you are nothing without the tribe.

    Not even able to follow your point in this paragraph.

  14. Never heard of the ring, but am familiar with “Character is what you do when you’re sure you’ll never be caught”. Same thing, although I don’t know where Plato went with it.
    I rather like the permutation of it being how you treat folks who can’t do anything for you, too….


    I’ll try to rephrase it– the cave woman wouldn’t get a choice like that. Because you can’t survive in that primitive of a society up to the point of being able to look for a mate without the tribe, and any culture that gave enough freedom for individuals to be recognized in their own right is going to die. Everyone has to submit to some extent to biology and reality. All the cavemen had to be raised to the point that they can take care of themselves waaaaay before the question of ‘do I want to try to do this’ ever came up. They can’t just ditch, they’re too expensive.
    Which is what the various culture attacking things are trying to harness, with themselves as the tribe leader. Basic survival level requirement of obedience…but without it actually being an emergency that is required for survival.
    That’s why they destroy the family, churches, friend-structures, even just flippin’ video games can’t be allowed to not be under their control. (Hello, #GamerGate.)

    I can’t remember the proper term for all the other little groups– I know it’s in social teaching, something like intermediary groups. It’s like a healthy culture is a vinn diagram that has each person as a different circle, and while you might overlap with this person here and there, there’s nothing human or human-caused that completely encompasses the entire thing.
    Vs either extreme that’s currently pushed– either all the circles are inside of the big circle, or none of the circles touch. They’re both wrong, although the latter one is wrong because it’s impossible, it requires someone who actually got where they are without any support at all.

  15. From Culture Creature:
    “Rob Janoff, the designer of the Apple logo, claims that he didn’t explicitly intend a Biblical reference in the Apple logo meaning when he created the logo in 1977. He didn’t have to. Mr. Janoff said he included the bite “for scale, so people get that it was an apple not a cherry. Also it was kind of iconic about taking a bite out of an apple.” Why is the bite iconic? Because of its use as a symbol over hundreds of years of mythology. Former Apple executive Jean Louis Gassée called the logo “the symbol of lust and knowledge.”

  16. This article reminds me of the story of the Krell machine in the 1950’s sci-fi movie “Forbidden Planet.” The Krell went to their extinction in the mother of all flame wars.
    *
    Another story that is related is an episode of the old 1960’s series “The Outer Limits” titled “The Man with the Power.” A college professor gains telekinetic powers via a brain implant. His subconscious mind uses these powers to destroy his enemies. The closing narration is interesting. It goes:
    *
    Deep beyond the kindest, gentlest soul may lurk violent thoughts, deadly wishes. Someday Man will learn to cope with the monsters of the mind. Then, and only then, when the human mind is truly in control of itself, can we begin to utilize the great and hidden powers of the universe.

  17. Foxfier, I thought you would understand more than anyone the use of “first assume a spherical chicken.”

    I can’t remember the proper term for all the other little groups– I know it’s in social teaching, something like intermediary groups. It’s like a healthy culture is a vinn diagram that has each person as a different circle, and while you might overlap with this person here and there, there’s nothing human or human-caused that completely encompasses the entire thing.
    Vs either extreme that’s currently pushed– either all the circles are inside of the big circle, or none of the circles touch. They’re both wrong, although the latter one is wrong because it’s impossible, it requires someone who actually got where they are without any support at all.

    Goldberg likes to refer to them as competing institutions. Burke called them “little platoons.”

  18. Nate-
    ???
    I don’t get the connection between the famous paraphrase of a mathematical hack (ie, make a dumb assumption to make the math work– the cow isn’t an insanely hard to graph shape, she’s round, though never seen a chicken thing) and vin diagrams. (circles showing shared or excluded traits.)

    The “competing institutions” doesn’t really work, either– unless the mean girls get control, there’s nothing in my being a scifi fan and a sweet romance fan that stops me from being Catholic and a geek and a ranch kid and a vet and a dozen other things. I don’t recall him using the phrase, so I don’t know how he used it.

    Third hand, it works in the context of the cavemen metaphor being the spherical chicken, quite well, just that bakes in a lot of assumptions that might need looking at.

    If they were COMPLEMENTING institutions, would totally work.

    But I guess I stopped reading Goldberg before he started in on that. (insert sofa comment)

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