A brave new world?

Over the years I have read many hundreds if not thousands of pages on the internet ranging from sport, current affairs, travel, music, photography, and one of my favourites, technology. Now that last subject covers many areas, by that I mean the whole area as to where technology invades, TV, video, computers of course, any area of life where the silicon chip is resident. Now some amazing stuff has come about through this minute invention, and has got small and more powerful over the years. Remember the bricks that were mobile phones in the 80’s? Boom Boxes? Sony Walkman’s, VHS and Betamax video recorders being huge boxes, video cameras you had to lug on your shoulder? The list is endless and now compare todays gadgets where a mobile phone can do just about anything those gadgets mentioned above can do, I welcomed each new innovation, I couldn’t afford to buy many of them but I used to wait, sometimes a couple of years, to buy something that had been superseded yet again in the interim.

I will give you an example, I was buying top end Sony Betamax machines when 90% of the world had switched to VHS, but the Betamax tapes were cheap. I had TV’s the size of a chest of draws when TV’s bigger, thinner and cleverer were now taking over, I’ve caught up by the way. But you get the point of what I am saying, well I hope you do, but now I have read something about technology that makes me wary of the future for our young people but seems to be welcomed with open arms by enthusiast. Well two things actually, A.I. (artificial intelligence), and robots, both make me shudder at the implications of their uses. Of course games enthusiasts are all ready drooling over virtual reality headsets that will be appearing in ever increasing numbers in the not so distant future and I actually know someone who has bought one of these robotic room sweepers. It’s circular I believe and has built in sensors so that it misses the furniture while is sweeps your floors, not sure about corners though.

And this area of technology has barely got started, I think a lot of us will have seen videos or news clips or lines of robots assembling anything from cars to washing machines with a few humans at the end to make the final touches. And if your car goes wrong well plug it into another robot and it will tell you what is wrong although some humans might have to do the fixing, at the moment. And now I read that a bar in Japan will be staffed completely by robots, lady orientated I believe, and Iike I say we are only at the beginning of this new area of technology. I have read about robot doctors doing delicate surgery, better than humans it seems, and Amazon have whole warehouses run by automation more or less and are now experimenting with a new technology gadget for delivering your order, drones. And not only that but the pace is quickening as the rush to cut out the human element with none tiring, none striking, none moody, I suppose until they develop A.I. that makes them act like humans, robotic alternatives. But where does this leave┬áthe future for our children, my grandchildren in fact? I have read and read again and I don’t like what I read for I don’t know about the other side of the coin where robots could be used in future conflicts. Futuristic maybe but not something like I used to look forward to with awe, now its more like fear.

There is one area that I forgot to mention and I’m not sure if it’s scary or not, self drive cars, well not just cars but trucks and taxis have been mentioned. Ford and Tesla, and I don’t doubt many others testing the technology but I also read that a truck company, not sure which one, is also testing self drive vehicles, coupled with the news that Uber, the taxi app people, are also supposed to be testing self drive taxis. There is surely no end to this, what next no pilots in the cockpit they already have autopilots so why have pilots at all?

 

Oldies.

I am of the older generation, that is, in my 60’s the age group that are thought of as being a bit, shall we say, computer illiterate in today’s world. Well in my case that is not the point, although for many, including my wife that is so in fact she won’t even contemplate touching a keyboard believe me I had tried to coax her. But a lot of this phobia of computers in older people is that they are used to old ways, old ways that worked that is, we have one friend who makes a cheque out regularly to herself to put money from one bank account to another, her mobile, the flip up kind, is more often turned off than on and she is fine with this. But she is not alone in fact when I think about it none of my older friends contemplate today’s computer centric world and the likes of Facebook are just something youngsters play with. But not all older people fall into that category but the older the person the more resistant to computer technology they seem to be.

My own experience stems from my love of gadgets, anything electrical that was new to the market, the early 386 computers with dot matrix printers, the Philip G7000 (Odyssey in the US I believe) games console when everyone else was buying Atari. Digital watches where you had to push a button just to see the display time I was fascinated by the silicon chip in whatever gadget it was placed in. I read stuff in libraries, I didn’t have to pay out a fortune for magazines for a start, and learned about Zilog and Intel not that understood a lot of it, the diagrams of semiconductors were for people with university degrees not someone who built houses for a living but it still fascinated me. And so it continued through the late 80’s, into the 1990’s until this present day and I still read a lot of technical stuff that is over my head but even I have a problem now. Technology is moving so fast it is getting too complicated for me to understand some of the basics of computer technology and I’m not sure I like the direction it is going in.

Sure I used the fruits of the technology, for a start my internet connection is broadband and I have nearly, only nearly, forgotten the nightmares of the dial up modem I used to have where if I was downloading an update for some software or other it only took a telephone call from one of my wife’s friends, which was on the same phone line, to cut me off and a whole download was just about useless, so any serious stuff had to be done after midnight, and You Tube, gimme a break, I couldn’t watch any music video’s without buffering but hey ho. But still the fascination and it still continues to this day but it’s gone in odd direction, gaming is huge but after the initial Philps games machine it never caught on with me, photography has and I saved up for a decent camera after buying at the cheaper end of the spectrum. I tried Fuji the Canon and I can’t fault them the last camera I bought, from E-Bay, was a Canon 350d and now look, you can carry a mobile phone, take a rain check here, your very own phone box in your pocket?

Yes today you can do practically everything, and possibly even more than on my old 386 computer and do it better. You can take better pictures than on my early Fuji camera and not only that send them to anyone on the planet more or less. What you can’t do on your phone these days isn’t worth mentioning and that includes shopping online, banking online, paying with stuff just by waving your phone in front of yet another gadget (a payment terminal usually). But along with this new way of doing things there is a new way for criminal to carry on doing their deeds only these days it all electronic and sometimes you don’t even know it’s been done to you until you look at your bank statements. And now electronics are moving into the home in a big way, seen todays modern TV’s for instance? Amazon have a gadget like a loudspeaker only it has ears, you talk to it and it does your bidding, like phones you talk to them as well and lets not forget robots, they are coming.

Well in fact they have been here for years you only have to look at car assembly plants to see that many repetitive jobs formerly done by humans are now down effortlessly by robots. But robots of another kind, although the don’t move, have been a fact of life for a long long time and even older people have come to accept them, cash machines. At one time the only way to get your money out of the bank was during their opening hours where you queued to see a cashier behind a screen and handed over your passbook. Now if you run short of money you simply slip in your bank card, debit card or whatever and get what you want, with a printed receipt and at any time of day or night. What no one really bothers about anymore is all this stuff is all handled behind the scene’s by computers, albeit clever computers. So what else? Well that’s for another day.