CONVERSATIONS

TRAFFIC LIGHTS RULE?

 

 

 

    MY SISTER WROTE:

 

HI Bro:

[. . .] with the rise in technology and all of its "wonders", much of the population is now addicted to what it appears to offer.  This is particularly evidenced by less interaction among individuals personally as opposed to say all of the Facebook, Twitter and general texting, even when standing next to each other.  There is no face to face identification other than little tech items in their hands.  Note the surge to do and get everything on- line.

 

Forget magazines, books, newspapers and other media that used to be in print and which would be topics of discussion.  They are becoming a thing of the past.  Everything today is geared for the individual person as opposed to small and large groups.  The technology is based upon keeping people separate, thereby making them isolated.  Humans, like many groups of animals are benefited by the groupings to protect from all sorts of things.  The predators always go to the lone individual  away from pack while the herd has the protection of numbers.

 

 

     I REPLIED:


A cell phone or other device is not all things to all people. The technology has no intent to isolate people, although it can be used for that purpose. But as you've mentioned, it already has that effect on some people. Lots of people use the little techie devices.  Many who do seem completely absorbed in them.  Kids will not cross the street to say hello to each other.  They are used by people who are driving cars, raising questions about whether the obvious danger is from physical or mental distraction, to which the obvious answer is, Yes. There is no debate about their recent political uses. Far from keeping people isolated, making political action ineffective, President Obama skillfully deployed a network of cell phone users to wage his campaign for office. The use of cell phones in the Mideast has been a decisive factor in the widespread revolutions there.

 

 

Since history began, there have been nomads and settlers. Civilization began in settlements, places where food could be stored.  Living together in one place had advantages. But one drawback was that this arrangement required co-operation and voluntary restrictions.  For those who disliked civilized requirements or were in an unfavorable location, nomadic life was necessary.  From the beginning, these two fundamental types of humans have been at odds, leading to raids by nomads upon the accumulated food and wealth of settlements.  The two types, reinforced by mutual animosity, bred traits favorable to their circumstances. Some kids are of the nomadic type, perhaps wanting freedom from the restrictions of their family life.  They can wander the streets, talking to each other while on disparate paths.

 

   
Most of us, when not distracted, obey traffic lights. This has elicited an easily understood, albeit pedestrian, metaphor for fear of technology.  Increasing complexity weakens the metaphor. We coexist with many machines, depending upon them for heat and light, transportation of food and water, communication and storage of our thoughts, agricultural and industrial production. 

 

Suppose the machines stopped working. 

 

How do they work? Some of us know how some of them work, but none of us know how all of them work.  We see PG&E installing smart meters that eventually will be used to control household devices.  Machines are beginning to talk to each other, but we don't know what they are saying, only what they do.  Can they be trusted?

Voices from the past:
    
     "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
     "You don't know what's going on, Mr. Jones, do you?"

Machines will work as designed.  We’re in control, right?

Now there are machines that design other machines, machines designed to learn from experience, machines that replicate themselves.  They'll do as they're told -- like us, some of the time.

 

     MY SISTER REPLIED:

 

In one form or another, we all are using technology as we know it today.  The difference is that up until a fairly recent time, we could choose which ones we wanted to use and based our choices on either how much we wanted to divulge of our personal information and how much we trusted those in charge of the information.  Some (like traffic lights) allow us to more smoothly go about our way and (generally) not have to worry about getting run over or run down. Others like GPS for our cars  and cell phones, are a two edged sword.  Yes, they help those that want them get around but now it turns out that others can track where we go.  And cell phones (so-called "smart" phones) can do the same thing.  But suddenly there is no control over who's doing the tracking.  The technology coming down the pike will be more invasive.  Then with super hackers out "there" as well as nefarious types, there will become more and more the real possibility that the entire technology system will come crashing down.  Perhaps permanently.  Could it be the dawn of a return to almost caveman like existence?  The other real scenario is that the machines not only with talk to each other but will as they "develop" come to realize that they really don't need people at all to do any of the things they not only are supposed to do but WANT to do themselves.

 

It could come to pass that the human creature will evolve to a point where they really don't need each other either.  Certainly appears that this is starting to occur now with people talking, texting more and interfacing in person less.  I prefer in person as opposed to cell phones (mine mostly for emergencies and imparting important information that can't wait til I get home). I continue to keep paper backup as I learned when switching from my '98 computer to my XP that some information was impossible to transfer even with the magic programs.  I will be a dinosaur for as long as I can.