Friday, August 20, 2010

New Tech will take over your life!

Technology has accelerated so fast just in the past 3 years that I fear for the future -- not just for me, but for young people that have to live through it, well into the mid-century. And it's not just iris scanning that has me worried -- most of the new cell phones have built in GPS that broadcasts where you are at. I had read recently on the Internet (and saw it this morning on ABC) that newer digital cameras have a "place" setting that is done through built-in GPS on the camera! I had wondered how Flickr knew where some people's pictures were taken -- now I know. My digital camera doesn't have it. You should check yours. The dangerous thing about this is that vulnerable people such as underage and old people may unknowingly broadcast their location to thieves, rapists, and scam artists. Facebook has a "places" option that they are adding to track you. What is the purpose of all of this information? Some people would say that it is a benefit; I would beg to differ. Too much information is not necessary. But people have become voyeuristic, hence, the TLC (and other video channels) "reality" series where we can peek into other people's private lives, almost in real time. For someone who has committed ANY kind of offense, civil, criminal, misdemeanor, even littering, the new scary future will be just like what was in the movie "Minority Report": they'll know your crime before you even think about committing it. "Future crime" it was called ... Already they are develop brain wave reading machines -- yes, they will actually be able to read the mind. Not specific thoughts, as yet, but they are getting to that point and I believe within the next 20 years that will be a reality.

This is the future in 20 years (if the world doesn't end in 2012, that is ...) : everyone in most "civilized" or "technological" societies will have an implanted chip that has all of their information on it, SSN, medical history, criminal history, voter registration record, employment record, your personality profile, your propensity for "antisocial" behavior such as violence (think of it as your sociological profile,) your purchasing habits and needs, your location broadcast via built-in GPS to local authorities (and if criminal record, FBI or NSA.) All of this can and will be updated dynamically. "Registries" will no longer be needed -- people can be "buzzed" on their phone if a certain kind of criminal (or a person that they no longer want to see) comes near.

And that is just off the top of my head! I have been avidly reading technology blogs, major newspaper publishers such as the New York Times and other sources trying to keep abreast as to what is ahead. I guess I should feel fortunate that I only have so many working years left (if I can ever find employment,) because I won't have to worry about interacting with people that are so "informed."

One of the editorial writers in the NY Times (I think it might have been George Will, a conservative, but I agreed with this article) wrote that young people don't know how to function without constant stimulation -- music plugged in the ear, a ringing cell phone or buzzing with text messages, constant connection with other people day and night, always-on Internet, technology in the car (talk to it,) refrigerator (it will buy your groceries for you if you let it,) etc. Many young people don't know how to be "alone" any more! I used to practice a form of meditation (which I haven't done much lately because I am so wrapped up in just living and surviving daily) where you completely "clean out your mind" of any thoughts and just BE. You want this to be a pleasant moment, of course. Live the moment -- smell the air, listen to your surroundings, notice the colors of the sky or wherever you may be. Sense your body, your breathing, your -- YOU. You pause, taking in all of these sensory inputs at once, and it builds in you to a crescendo of amazing PEACE, and -- yes -- JOY. I did this in conjunction with prayer and, I swear, I felt connected to God and the universe. That's what most busy, wired, interconnected people are missing. And do we really need to be connected all of the time?

That's my take on the "brave, new, scary future." I want to believe that the superficiality of many young people is not an indication of where we are heading in the future. If only technology would be reined in a bit ... to give some of us a chance to just live and be left alone!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Time to bring back American Manufacturing!

My experience today was a perfect reason why we need to bring back American manufactured goods, and quit making inferior ones overseas in China. I bought a power washer / compressor with a brand name of "Task Force" from a major hardware store here two years ago. I have used it VERY lightly in the past two years, and I know that it came with only "a limited ONE-YEAR warranty," but a $150 product should last longer than this ... The power washer quit spraying after the first use of the day (when I would let go of the trigger) -- it just wouldn't spray after that. Not wanting to just throw away a $150 product that is barely two years old, I took it apart this weekend to check it out. The compressor was fine -- the only thing that could have failed was the cheap electrical switch used to turn the compressor off and on. When I called the 1-800 number (a place in Canada) they gave me another number to call. That person told me that "no parts are available here, everything is from China." So I told him, I guess that means I just "throw the machine away, right?" He said, "Right." Twenty years ago, that little electronic switch would have been a mechanical one and would have lasted for hundreds of on-off cycles. But the short-sighted manufacturers wanted to cut 50 cents or a dollar of the cost of the product, so they replaced it with an electronic one, controlled by a chip. It just amazes me, the built-in obsolescence of products we buy here now. All designed to fail, quickly, so the owner(s) of the companies can profit off our misfortune, and we are poorer still. It looks like the richest 2% of the country will soon control more than the 50% they are supposed to have. It will be more like 80% or more, if we continue to buy this junk from China.