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Too Much Technology, Or Too Little for Simple Things?

Too Much Technology, Or Too Little for Simple Things?

There will be always be hot debate between those who want ever more technology and those who want less. Most people will be somewhere in the middle. More of what they like, less of what they don’t understand or need.

There is is some polarisation on these issues. Is there a limit to the amount of technology we as people can take without either actually becoming robots or just feeling we are?

Technology Free Fortnight

Earlier this year, former BBC Springwatch presenter and vice president of the RSPB, Kate Humble, advocated a whole 14 days where people should forgo the internet and smartphones in order, as she put it, ‘to connect with their surroundings.’

She argued that we are too techno-obsessed to notice the natural beauties of things around us. She may have a point.

In an interview with Reader’s Digest she said that children from the urban areas particularly should be ‘exposed to the countryside as much as possible.’ The future of the planet is in the hands of children so ‘it’s vital urban kids experience the wonder of nature first-hand.’

There is an alternative take on this, that urban youngsters do not have to give up technology entirely in order to appreciate the joys of real wildlife, plants, trees, open skies, farms and agriculture.

The most telling part of her idea was that if we just gave things up like chocolate for Lent, we should do it ‘without guilt.’

And in an age of ever-present digital pressure to ‘keep in touch’ and know everything, that guilt is a hard thing to set aside.

It used to be the case that a car journey meant people were out of touch for the duration. Or if they went on holiday they didn’t get constant updates from work or family or both. Not any more. The drive to keep informed is relentless.

Bring On More Technology

Iain Hollingshead in the Sunday Telegraph (14th April 13) took the opposite view. He found the debate on introducing goal-line technology into football led him to conclude, ‘we don’t have nearly enough technology in our lives!’

In support of some interesting ideas about technological innovation he wanted to see, he quoted a Californian venture capital company who stated, ‘we wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.’

Hollingshead demanded some relatively simple developments in the office:

  • a security swipe card that turns on your equipment as you enter the building
  • a swipe card that doesn’t reveal how long was your lunch
  • a keyboard that recognises your fingerprints
  • a remote-controlled thermostat to make meeting rooms so cold a meeting cannot last more than 3 minutes

In the home, he suggested:

  • a device to set off your neighbour’s burglar alarm when they are arguing or doing other things too loudly
  • or turning off your neighbour’s car alarm when activated by a cat
  • a Facebook filter that hides status updates about ‘charity fun runs/smug holidays/requests to play online games
  • a waterproof e-reader
  • a TV device that automatically finds a channel not featuring Stephen Fry

For travelling around, he proposed:

  • an automated service that rings your mobile when you’re ‘stuck in a boring situation and provides you with a range of individually tailored excuses to leave’
  • a self-service checkout capable of identifying objects in the bagging area
  • and a checkout that can confirm without intervention that the customer of alcohol is over 18
  • traffic lights so bright that cyclists can see them too
  • a bank account so intelligent it doesn’t block your card when abroad
  • an airline check in app that assesses obesity, talkativeness and bladder strength of your neighbours
  • a mobile phone jammer for trains
  • and a satnav which checks the driving licence of the speeding driver and their partner, and attributes points to whoever has the least…

Tongue in cheek, maybe, but do we need more technology really, and if so, what would you like to see?

When you get back from your fortnight away from the modern world, let us know.

Image: SamRCarpenter