Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Technology Is Eating Itself, But We Won't Follow It

'Out with the old & In with the new' is the thought that crossed my mind earlier today, as I struggled to get my now ageing 'laptop 1', multitasking as efficiently as it would have even a year or so ago. I've known for a while that it needs to be cleaned, stripped and taken to the recycling centre nearby, but that slight luddite mentality of 'nah..it's got a few more months left in it yet' has kept me using it as a tandem workhorse.

But the reality is that it's knackered. It overheats quite quickly, as I can hear from the internal fan kicking into action within five to fifteen minutes of it being turned on. If it was actually worked on whilst being sat on a physical lap, it'd probably burn the user's legs somewhat in the process. All in all , I'll give it until the end of this month and then it's time to do the 'last rites' on it and that's the end of another era in my working environment.

We've quite recently also seen the end of another CES , and looking back it was the usual tantalising mixture of brilliant, good, bad ( the grillbot...an automated grill cleaner) and even ugly.

In essence the above smattering is only a drop in the ocean of silicon, sweat, brainpower and brilliance.  But what struck me about some of the better ones, were that they wern't anything groundbreaking in the conventional sense.

In other words, they were brilliant redesigns being improved upon, or simply revived. The 'new' super-8 camera by kodak and the flexi-thin screen by LG, for example, are great reiteratons of existing and now defunct ( in the case of the super-8) devices.

And the same can be said of our current generation of smart-tech devices, such as the tablets, laptops and all of our smartphones. Each successive release is a combination of :-

* faster, lighter, brighter (both the screen AND in the choice of aesthetic casing)

* more or less complex

and

*either more or less expensive than the previous generation device range/set.

The same ruling can be applied to ancillary devices such as smartwatches and V.R. ( virtual reality) headsets, too. Although as these are still very new to the marketplace, the development and innovation cycles will have their own curve and skew. However, it must be noted that the watches haven't yet taken off saleswise with the same gusto as the smartphones that they were ( and are) designed to be a counterpart to, even though they've been around for almost two years.

All the aforementioned is something I've been bearing in mind somewhat, whilst working through the clean, strip and backup processes involved before disposing of a laptop. And there was a cluster of conclusions I reached, which became further enchanced when I realised that a lot of the software I used regularly, was effectively next generational addendums and 'vitamin enriched', welcome reiterations of previous versions. In effect :-

* We're reaching near superflous levels of development in technology . e.g. - how smart can a smartphone now be? how is (or will) V.R. be improving your life on a day to day basis?

* the rate of change is now slowing down..the growth is exponential. 

* People's jobs are now starting to be superceeded by technology

More importantly in such uncertain times, (in terms of resources, public and political unrest) , whilst technology is helping us to make connections around the globe quickly, and potentially help each other  more efficiently and succinctly in times of crisis, what about the rest of the time? Are people still as inclined to spend time with and even help each other?

Can technology be blamed for our slightly odd 'so near, yet so far' way of relating to each other?  Or is there another endemic issue with regards ambition, survival, and the last burning embers of the industrial age, which we've remarkably kept blazing hot in their near charcoaled state , even though we're aware they have reached that near-carbon level because we didn't know when to stop?

Is that a cynical viewpoint? At the least, it's food for thought. At the most, there is some truth in there.

More importantly, maybe we've almost forgotten when to slow down and  tend to ourselves internally like we used to. In essence, we're accelerating our lives at a previously unheard of rate, yet we're not self regulating like we used to.

The irony is, in wanting more control of our lives at a day to day level, we've relinquished a lot of it to devices and gadgets both hard and soft, which we're now more dependant upon than ever before.

Is that the right thing to do? Only time will tell. But somewhere the balance seems to be tipping over to excess. And if that is the case, then nature will act to correct this.

In other words, our biological make up will prevent a loss of control beyond a certain level, so we can continue to grow, learn and expand both inwards and outwards.

I was originally going to call this article 'technology is eating itself out of existence'. But my optimistic side doesn't believe that's true. At least not yet.

Maybe it's time we slowed down, so that we can see the roses. Then we can think about stopping for a bit to smell them.

And then we can decide how to cultivate and nurture our gardens for the future, so others can learn by example.

Like most romantics, I always have faith in mankind, in that things will eventually work themselves out for the better. That's because as complex as we are, we created the technology, not the other way around.We created our own shovels, trowels and wheelbarrows, too.

It looks like now's the time to get the gloves & tools out of the shed. It's always good to cultivate the ground when it's soft.

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