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How has constant innovation creating more harm than good?



Did you know

Every year, millions of products are created, manufactured and sold to the public—products that are built to break down over a short period of time. Created with a mindset of “Built in obsolescence”, these products range from computers and mobile devices and run the gamut of all sort of products that are soon replaceable through the leverage and promotion of consumerist culture.

It is this mindset of people as constant and continual consumers that has, in many cases, caused a good part of the pollution and discard of products to the landfill.

The question we need to ask is: Do we really need all this “Stuff” and how can we transform into a mindset of being constant mass-consumers to becoming engaged public citizens?

Our mass consumerist cultures have contributed to the decline of personal and planetary health.

What’s going on?

CES, the self-described “global stage for innovation,” gives manufacturers an annual opportunity to show off shiny new tech, whether it’s fridges you open with your voice, AI-powered robot vacuums, or $3,000 smartphone-operated doggie doors. Some of it could be life-changing stuff. But many products never see actual release, those that do often fall short—and far too many of them are insecure, unrepairable, and destined for the landfill.

Damage Control

Every year CES encourages manufacturers to out-“innovate” one another by honoring “outstanding design and engineering in consumer technology products” with its Innovation Awards … and boy do they innovate. While the press does their best to raise their eyebrows and ask whether anyone will really buy these things, there’s never enough time to dig into what these “innovations” really mean for people or the planet.

The Right to Repair and “The Worst in Show Awards”

That’s why the Right to Repair coalition teamed up to create the first-ever “Worst in Show Awards.” We think consumers should know which attention-seeking products were designed to be repaired, and which are destined to become hard-to-dispose waste, especially in a year when so many OEM service centers were closed and repair options were limited. We’ll also, with the help of our friends, draw attention to the least secure, least privacy-conscious, and straight-up least useful products introduced this week under the pretense of endless “innovation” (read: consumption).

Six award categories for the Worst in Show Awards include:


A failure of repairability isn’t just a bummer for fixers, it means this product is sure to waste its resources mouldering away in a landfill.


This award goes to the device most likely to leak your home security footage, baby photos, or just get you some alarmingly too-targeted ads.


Voted most likely to be a zombie in a botnet, or to infect the rest of your Internet of Things, keep clear of this Trojan tech.


Environmental Impact

No matter how novel or well-designed, some products cost the planet and its people too much, luckily we’ve got just the badge of shame.

Community Choice

Sometimes there’s no perfect category and we just need an outlet for the collective groan we let out at a miserable product, here’s to you, voters!


Overall Worst in Show

This product is just an egregious hodge-podge of bad decisions and should not see the light of day.

To help us out, we called in an expert panel of guest judges for each award category, including:

  • Repairability (Kyle Wiens, CEO and cofounder, iFixit)

  • Privacy (Cindy Cohn, Executive Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation)

  • Security (Paul Roberts, founder, securepairs)

  • Environmental Impact (Nathan Proctor, National Campaign Director, USPIRG)

  • Community Choice (Selected by our community on Twitter, presented by Cory Doctorow, Special Advisor, Electronic Frontier Foundation)

  • Overall Worst in Show (Cory Doctorow, Special Advisor, Electronic Frontier Foundation).

Our panel of judges will be announcing their winners on Friday, January 15 @ 9am PST during a livestream on the iFixit Youtube channel. They’ll discuss the main factors driving their decisions and answer any questions you might have. If you can’t make the livestream, we’ll share the results of our awards and a livestream recording shortly after on

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