Journalist and designer John Thackara investigates why scientists and designers are deliberately planning for failure. Many products and scientific advancements are now deliberately given a short shelf life. John asks what impact the 'landfill designers' are having on scientific progress, the environment and our expectations of the technology we use every day.
The term 'planned obsolescence' was coined in the 1950s but has never been more relevant. John explores how, paradoxically, this focus on a throw-away society is helping science to advance in unexpected ways. Our desire to have the latest style can mean more in landfill, more children in China and India sifting through toxic waste, but it can also mean an innovative approach to new technologies and reusable materials.
An All Out production for BBC Radio 4.
Why are scientists and designers are deliberately planning for failure?