As a techy, and self-proclaimed geek, it pains me a bit to ask this question. Are we too enamored of our technology? I’m not quite old enough to remember when television was black and white. But, I am old enough to remember when cellular phones were new, and people still had land lines in their homes. My household hasn’t had a home phone for over a decade. And, do you remember when a cell phone just performed phone calls? I do. Now, I have a phone whose secondary purpose is to make actual voice phone calls.
Even smart phones, it seems, are on the precipice of becoming outdated. Every new technology announcement seems to have some talk about new technology that’s integrated into this device or that device. Watches that operate as phones, and who knows what else. I even saw a shower head with an integrated speaker. And the hottest new electric car, the Tesla Model S, has it’s own internal Ethernet network, that Tesla seems to monitor in some way.
When is Too Much Tech, Too Much?
At what point does this stop? Do we get so far as to have networked devices implanted into our skulls that integrate with a mini, flexible display surgically attached to our eyes for a heads up display? When does the six million dollar man come into play? It’s not that far in the future. If I, not quite middle aged yet, can remember a time when technology required a 28.8kbs connection to a modem, and storage was measured in Mb, not Tb, how far are we really from implantable devices? How far are we from being so dependent upon our technologies that we cease to remember how to function without them?
What Happens When Tech Fails?
And if we’re right around the corner from a world where tech is so ubiquitous as to be a part of us, literally, what happens when that technology fails? What does a BSOD do to an implanted system? I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out that it potentially could be bad.
Even now, with our smart phones and iPads seemingly attached to us, we sometimes find ourselves out of sorts if we suddenly lose our data signal. We’re lost in an analog world that seems disconnected from our perceived “real world”. If we integrate our technology that much further into our lives, and it fails, do we too fail?
Let’s assume that the next Tesla model uses it’s internal network to control it’s voltage to the batteries and engine. When the internal switch fails, the car fails. Unless there’s some sort of failover switch. Worst case scenario, you’ve got a really expensive lawn ornament. Maybe Tesla fixes it eventually. But, if the implant in your brain decides to malfunction and sends a surge into your brain, you could become the lawn ornament.
Is It Time to Break from Tech?
As geeks, I think we all try and stay on the cutting edge. We like to have the newest devices, the newest software, and find the best ways for them all to work together. My generation hasn’t always had technology, but we’ve spent the majority of our time with some form of technology. The youngest generations have grown up with technology that is leaps and bounds above what my generation had. They’ve got more ram in their watches than I had in my first 3 or 4 PCs. Possibly combined.
If you look around, the proliferation of tech has also brought about the proliferation of people looking to get away from it all. There’s a new article, seemingly every other day, that talks about how refreshing taking a weekend (or week, or month, or year) away from technology is.
Technology is cool. Technology is awesome. Technology gives us the ability to do things in ways that we’ve never been able to do them before. Heck, farmers can literally program the layout of their fields into a tractor, set the computer to plow, and then just ride along to make small corrections.
Because technology is always entering new spaces, in new ways, we always clamor to give it a try and to make it useful. Rarely do we question what the cost of it is. Of course, I don’t mean the monetary cost. But the cost of what we lose in the process. As texting becomes more and more used, many of us forget what it’s like to have a face to face conversation. Or we forget what it’s like to have to wait an hour or two to know whether we have new email or not. That’s the simple stuff though. If self-driving cars become as widespread as smart phones, will we also forget how to drive? It’s all well and good until technology fails.
It’s time we start using and adopting tech in a conscientious manner. It’s time we make an effort to not forget what it’s like to have to do things without technology. Even if you don’t have entire days set aside to be free from technology, maybe an hour or two here and there to spend without technology, doing something easily done with technology. Write a letter. Remember what it’s like to do things the “hard way.” Most of them really aren’t all that “hard” anyways.
What do you think about the proliferation of technology? For the better? For the worse? Or, just meh?