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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Blog 143. Upgrade / Downgrade.

Constantly upgrading technology downgrades us.

Technology is dehumanising us, infantilising and stripping our responsibility. It is automatising and brutalising us. None of this is news. However, technology isn’t even doing the things we think it can do and in over-relying on the magic of IT we are handing our lives to an entity lacking empathy, emotional intelligence, and the things that help to keep the unstable human animal in check.

I look up from my computer out of the window at the rain. On every weather forecast I’m looking at for Edinburgh it says it is very unlikely to rain today. It says it is not raining NOW. It is. I can see it.

And the thing is we know. In offices round the country computer records are mostly ‘backed up’ with paper copies. Doubling not halving the office work.

Technology isn’t killing us in an iRobot kind of way. It is subtly and cumulatively taking our humanity and our abilities.

The problem is that technology encourages us not to use our senses or even our common sense.

Although I am a self proclaimed Luddite (see blog 53 I suffer from PANTS) it’s not a visceral thing. I do not hate technology. I grew up without it mostly and me and it are – on the whole - quite happy with minimal contact.

I got the basics of turning on a computer years ago when married to an IT fan. Learning to e-mail was a boon and tis still a favoured form of communication. As face book obliterated cyberspace I found my in-boxes increasingly sparsely populated with mail from randoms which was a positive.

But from medicine to offices to safety, technology is deskilling the majority and giving us a false sense of security and power. It is also driving us crazy. It also means that greedy nutters who have never made anything or contributed to society in their lives can wreck the global economy by pressing buttons.

Governments around the world are gagging, slavering for more and more technology to spy on other countries and their own citizens. Yet nowhere do we see a government with the basic infrastructure or organisational skills to so much as keep the pavements free of dog crap let alone make other good use of any such information. (blog 42 I’m Spartacus)

In the rich west we can now buy our own heart monitors, gizmos to tell us how much energy we’ve burnt in relation to our calorific intake contained in a watch. Individuals have blood pressure monitors at home – where in some undeveloped countries you won’t find such a thing even in a hospital. And yet never has self induced illness been more prevalent. Never have more children been obese and more adults been killing themselves with substance abuse, poor lifestyle choices, processed food and polluted environments.

Recently I received notification that I had to renew my driving licence with the new self contained photo card – which is to all intents and purposes personal ID by the back door. In this country ID cards were voted down as something the public did not want but the government has found a way round that. I am unsure whether to renew my card as I do not have a car in any event.

Try contacting any customer service of any large organisation and you will be in an automated queue with numerous click button options until you fear for your sanity.
In supermarkets there are DIY check outs so that you need never speak to a soul while you are shopping. For some folk that was possibly the only human contact in a day.

And all the technology in the world doesn’t seem to be able to stop a young man shooting up worshipers in a church or another killing holiday makers on a beach. No. For that we need real human interaction and engagement. But as long as we keep telling ourselves that technology is the answer we will be able to side step the genuine and pressing issues that are taking us ever closer to melt down.

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