TO TECH, OR NOT TO TECH

shakespeare..THAT IS THE QUESTION.  Where do you stand on using technology as a regular part of your everyday life?  This was the topic that dropped into my mind recently as I found myself in the throws of setting up my wife’s shiny new iPhone 7.  Granted, there is a fair amount of technology all around us that we interact with on a daily basis, without choice, because it has been adopted within our society.  Things like sensors for the traffic and metering lights, or perhaps the computer that controls your vehicle’s critical systems, are taken for granted, but it wasn’t that long ago that there were many fewer of these everyday items in our lives.  Coffee makers have gone high tech, as have refrigerators and other home appliances- heck, even my front door unlocks when I arrive home in the evening, just for me.

With the explosion of the IoT (Internet of Things) growth,  the so-called “connected world” is getting more and more connected every day.  But is this necessarily a good thing?  Is it what you want for your life?  I cannot answer this question for you personally- I can only relate my own experiences and share with you what I’ve come to understand and appreciate on this topic.

I believe the general answer to both of the questions raised above is “yes”.  Yes, advancements in technology that can make us safer on the roads, or in our homes, can help us with our health, educate us by providing us with better and wider knowledge, can assist our aging society with a comfortable, independent and safe living environment, or provide services ranging from in home hospice care to a quick meal (a la Door Dash, a favorite in our home)–are good things that make our lives a little easier and more comfortable and enjoyable (hey, I’m the guy that does the dishes in my home, so a delivered meal is a good thing- trust me).

However, given the advancements in our technological capability today, we must address the question of whether we truly want this in our lives.  Just because something can be done through technology- it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) automatically become something that IS done through technology.  Here’s an example for you to consider.

I work in Silicon Valley in northern CA., and where my office is located, I actually sit in the middle of an area where the Google self-driving cars are regularly tested.  I see them all the time, around me, next to me, in front and behind, cute little white roly-poly bug looking vehicles just puttering along. They have a “driver” present, not driving, but monitoring the car’s behaviors, with a hand on a control of some kind, presumably to wrestle the control away from the tech if necessary.  That’s fine.  And the thought behind the technology that spawns these vehicles is simply to be able to provide transportation to those that might otherwise have limited access to a vehicle or mass transit for various reasons.  That- and that by providing and growing this technology (at least as it has been mentioned to me), the need for “too many vehicles” on the road (think- pollution and over-crowding), or even for vehicle ownership will be lessened or even perhaps one day no longer needed.  But-and here’s the question- is that what I want for my life?  I’m a “car guy”- I love restoring older trucks (I currently drive a 1968 Ford truck when not on my Harley)- you won’t likely ever see me in a roly-poly car- ever.Ever.Ever. I’m okay with driving myself in my truck- eventually I won’t be able to, and I’ll cross that bridge when necessary, but today, I enjoy the driving experience.  But that’s me, not you- I get it.  Even one day when I’m not driving around as much, I’ll still want to have my own truck, my motorcycle, my RV, whatever- it’s a part of who I am.  But such things may not be as important to you.

It’s important to weigh the benefits and costs associated with all technology.  Earlier, I mentioned my wife and her new iPhone 7.  She upgraded (she uses her phone more than her computer now) primarily to get the upgraded camera in the new phone.  My wife loves to take pictures of everything from her pets to her flowers to the fins and rear taillights of classic cars (an ongoing project that will one day become a book)-so having the best camera on her phone, readily available when inspiration hits her- yeah, I get that.  For me, it’s not needed, but for her, it’s a great thing.  Technology by itself is just technology- nothing more.  If it’s important to you and you can improve your life, and receive benefits from the technology (or even just enjoyment), that’s a good thing.  Have at it.  And, if it’s not for you- that’s okay too.  To tech, or not to tech?  That’s an easy question to answer- it all depends on you!