6

Magic is often touted to be superior to technology. While this statement is often made as propaganda or to enforce the idea of wizard-folk superiority over Muggles, it does have some merit - there are many examples problems we Muggles would love to have magic around to bend or bypass the laws of physics to solve.

I read that the reason wizarding folk don't use modern technology is because magic is an alternative path, and it has solved many of their living needs without needing to resort to technology, often as a superior solution. That got me thinking, however - are there cases where technology has done a better job, or is likely to do so?

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    Well...when it comes to destroying everything in a large area; nothing beats muggle tech... – VapedCrusader Feb 27 '16 at 20:06
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    Clarke's third law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." – Cascabel Feb 27 '16 at 20:42
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    I thought the real reason wizarding folk don't use any modern technology is that it isn't reliable in the presence of magic. (Potterverse magic isn't quite as harmful to electronics as, e.g., Dresden files magic, but the upshot is much the same.) If you've got to choose one or the other, magic is clearly the winner despite the occasional disadvantage. – Harry Johnston Feb 27 '16 at 21:34
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    Guns seem to be better at killing people. Avada Kedavra has a 100% death rate if it hits, but it's slow enough to dodge or physically block. – sumelic Feb 28 '16 at 1:24
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    How many wizards have gone into space? – Mike Kellogg Feb 29 '16 at 21:36
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Yes. There are several instances where Wizards end up using muggle technology, or when muggle technology would've been far more effective.

  • The Knight Bus, which is an adapted Muggle Vehicle
  • The Ford Anglia, ditto
  • Telephones (Instant Messaging vs Owls)
  • Glasses
  • The Hogwarts Express (Which doesn't appear to be magical at all)
  • Radio (It's used as is by Wizards)
  • The Internet/Television (In place of Newspapers)

Among just a few examples. There's also unused, but discussed options, such as Why don't muggle-born wizards use Muggle technology to fight Death Eaters? regarding warfare.

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    The Knight Bus is a magical bus, but it's definitely superior to a regular one, so not sure I'd consider it an example of technology being superior to magic. Same for the flying Ford Anglia. They're augmented technology. Owls are inferior to a phone, but the closer Muggle technology would be postal mail which is definitely inferior. Phones would be closer to using Floo powder to communicate through fireplace. – Anthony Grist Feb 27 '16 at 20:33
  • All of that is true. However both the ford and the bus ARE muggle items which were adapted for being SO GOOD at what they were designed to do that instead of building something out of scratch they adapted it. The Closest Muggle Technology to owls is e-mail. Or rather, it's better and made post mail obsolete (almost) – Oak Feb 27 '16 at 20:39
  • @Oak - Owls are indeed slower than email, but wizards do have instantaneous communication. Through the fireplace is like Face Time but they've had it for far longer! – ThruGog Feb 27 '16 at 21:21
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    @ThruGog What about the Internet? – Oak Feb 27 '16 at 22:12
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    Don't forget toilets :3 – user3564421 Feb 29 '16 at 10:10
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I don't like saying yes to this, but there is one case where technology is superior to any magic we have seen in the Potterverse.

Information retrieval/research.

Through the Internet, even our youngest students can answer simple questions almost instantly. At Hogwarts, even when asked something like "Who invented Butterbeer?" the students would have to either ask someone else or go to the library. They wouldn't even have gotten there by the time our Muggle would have Googled the answer.

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    Someone at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. – Mithrandir Feb 28 '16 at 7:04
  • well Internet doesn't work at Hogwarts by Hogwarts design itself so we can't really blame the students – user13267 Feb 28 '16 at 12:53
0

WoG on Technology https://www.pottermore.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/technology

TL; DR - Cars, Radios, Television are seen as superior to magic.

Basically the wizarding world doesn't need Muggle Tech...

While they have no need of mundane domestic objects such as dishwashers or vacuum cleaners

The divide is also cultural:

There is another reason for most wizards' avoidance of Muggle devices, and that is cultural. The magical community prides itself on the fact that it does not need the many (admittedly ingenious) devices that Muggles have created to enable them to do what can be so easily done by magic. To fill one's house with tumble dryers and telephones would be seen as an admission of magical inadequacy.

The major exception is the car and other vehicles:

There is one major exception to the general magical aversion to Muggle technology, and that is the car (and, to a lesser extent, motorbikes and trains).

because,

The magical community was forced to abandon horse-drawn vehicles when they became glaringly outmoded. It is pointless to deny that wizardkind looked with great envy upon the speedy and comfortable automobiles that began filling the roads in the twentieth century, and eventually even the Ministry of Magic bought a fleet of cars, modifying them with various useful charms and enjoying them very much indeed.

They also like radio and television:

...a few firebrand wizards even went so far, in the early eighties, as to start a British Wizarding Broadcasting Corporation, in the hope that they would be able to have their own television channel.

...many radios have been legally modified by the wizarding community for their own use, which broadcast regular wizarding programmes.

In conclusion; cars and radios seem to be the only widely used Muggle inventions that are superior to magic.

  • Any reason for the adoption of the car? Since wizardfolk can travel by fireplace and broomstick, magic is definitely not inferior when it comes to transportation. Is it just for the sake of blending in? – thegreatjedi Feb 28 '16 at 11:18
  • @thegreatjedi One could argue it was about fitting in. Although I would argue it is about accessibility and usage requirements. – Skooba Feb 29 '16 at 14:55

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