Life might seem more human if we put away our Devices and get out that tablet of paper and a pencil we stuck in a drawer when Technology arrived to reinvent the way we did everything – from reading and writing, to calling each other on the phone, banking, shopping, driving cars, doing our jobs and, in general, having a life.
Increasingly, we humans seem sentenced to spending our futures Serving Technology, not vice-versa. At any given moment we’re trying to decipher, repair, reinterpret, locate and/or otherwise operate and care for our Devices and/or the software on them. Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that – clever as we are – They Already Own Us.
Heaven forbid the grandkids should pester us for attention when we’ve selfishly (foolishly?) accepted a device’s invitation to “upgrade to the latest operating system.” Click that “yes” key and numerous waking hours could be devoted to comprehending the importance of the upgrades, which – as far as anyone can tell – provide a greater choice of background colors while secretly re-sorting your entire contact list into friends and enemies according to an unknown algorithm written in Cyrillic font with Roman numerals.
Such innovations and upgrades apparently result whenever a cubicle kid at Technoco decides it would be ever-so-useful to add a few extra 0’s and 1’s to a line of code so he can use ButtGPT to direct-dial those bat vendors in Wuhan. It must be an easier coding task than coding a default blocker to screen out all unsolicited emails advertising woodshop tools, vaginal lubricant, and other products suspiciously related only alphabetically to that brand of washing machine you bought online three years ago from Best Buy.
And at this point in civilization, it is morally permissible to believe that the sale of your email address without your expressed permission should be a capital offense, enforced by (of course) Technology. E.g., when those hair shampoo and diaper ads pop up in your email for the 410th time despite all attempts to “unsubscribe” or “block” them, there should be a response option to instantly incinerate all the devices that sent it.
That day may yet come, because technology is changing faster than even the geeks can keep up with. Here in Sonoma hundreds recently attended a “film” festival. Of course, film has increasingly been replaced by digital whatchamacallits when it comes to making and showing movies. Projectors at many theaters worldwide are gathering dust, replaced by devices that upload the whatchamacallits to a theater screen unnecessarily larger than those on the computers we use to comfortably watch the same movies at home with cheaper popcorn and beer and no wise-guy behind us providing commentary.
While Covid whacked attendance at theaters nationwide, technology seems to be one of the unspoken causes for the gradual closing of movie theaters the world over. The changes in viewing habits caused by the online availability of thousands of “movies” likely contributed to the dwindling attendance that led to the decision to close the Valley’s only cinemaplex on April 2.
For the generations raised on “going to the movies,” the techno-changes multiplying daily can often seem incomprehensible if not overwhelming. It is not too hard to imagine a future where technological evolution will have replaced helplessly befuddled Humans with Units. Units that create, learn, and share Information while requiring no food, clothing, jobs, schools, housing, sex, or socialization and emit no noxious gasses.