Too Much Tech or Not Too Much Tech

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
August 9, 2007
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15382
Too Much Tech or Not Too Much Tech
Are we floating on a sea of too much technology? Has our society begun to burst at the seems due to this influx of terrible technology? Or not...

Page 1: Too Much Tech Or Not

Article by Robert Biondini for ASE Labs.

Intro

The list of positives that come from correctly-conceived tech is almost endless - and in many ways our lives are better as a result. Thanks in large part to modern medical technologies, for example, illnesses that were once thought to be untreatable are now easily cured. Another technological marvel, the internet, now provides a means through which ideas can be exchanged quickly and easily across vast distances. And fantastically, cars with specific types of GPS tracking, if stolen, can be found rapidly by law enforcement officials.

But despite all of these and other helpful advances, sometimes technology is allowed to go out of control. At times, this results in designs that are useless, wasteful, and even harmful.

In The Year 2007, "if Man Is Still Alive..."

Is it time to move the couch from the living room to the kitchen? On the surface, that sounds like a rather ridiculous question. Nevertheless, in an apparent attempt to bring its electronics and appliance segments closer together, LG is now offering a new side-by-side refrigerator, the LSC27990, complete with features such as: ice maker, water dispenser, built-in LCD TV, and integrated FM radio. Furthermore, for those who cannot wait ten minutes for the Weather Channel to give a local weather brief, this fridge can even report a five-day forecast via its Weather & Info Center! Click here for a complete list of the unit's specifications. Overkill seems like a polite descriptor for the idea of an entertainment/information center inside a refrigerator. Indeed, the very concept seems eerily like Zager and Evans' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zager_and_Evans) disturbing vision of the future. According to their hit song "In the Year 2525", the year 5555 means:

Your arms are hangin' limp at your sides
Your legs got nothing to do
Some machine's doin' that for you

If enhanced with an external HDTV tuner box, DVD player, and comfortable sofa, the LSC27990 refrigerator from LG just might make the year 5555 a reality even sooner than Zager and Evens predicted. All that is missing from this nightmare of tech is a toilet built into the sofa.

The Papered Office

It was in the mid-1970s that experts, enamoured with the recent invention of personal computing, began to predict the coming of the paperless office (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paperless_office). The notion of the paperless workplace was derived from the idea that as more workers began to do their day-to-day tasks on computers, paper usage would decrease proportionately - until the messiness of papers at the office was nothing more than a distant echo of a long forgotten way of life. Put simply, the experts were wrong. And now, there are statistics prove it.

A Canadian study released in 2006 concludes that paper usage has doubled in Canada during the past two decades. According to the report, ‘...a visit to any modern office workplace will confirm that printers everywhere continue to spit out massive amounts of paper...’ The overuse of paper is also a problem in other industrialized nations, such as the United States.

Seemingly, even Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States turned Oscar-winning environmentalist, cannot avoid the traps of tech in the workplace. Just take a look at this CNN-Time photo of Gore’s office. It looks like a small forest has been obliterated to produce all of the papers on his desks. But upon closer inspection of the picture, paper is not the only thing cluttering Gore's office. Indeed, it is apparent that technology itself is consuming Gore’s workspace. His three computer monitors, although LCD, leave Gore with precious little desk real estate on which to work. At Gore's right, a large television is on, but remains unwatched. One wonders about the increase in Gore’s carbon footprint because of these massive monitors. Could he accomplish his work with only two large computer screens... with one?

Gore, and everyone else who uses electricity, should consider this: A report published online this summer by the Energy Saving Trust in the U.K. reveals an interesting fact. Surprisingly flat screen televisions and other examples of tech in the marketplace today are much less energy efficient than older devices, CRT-based televisions for example. The BBC provides further analysis, and an interesting video piece on the report here.

Nature Imitating Destructive Tech

Sir David Attenborough, the respected documentarian from the United Kingdom, comments on the inherent tragedy of nature imitating tech when he observes, "...[the lyrebird] was singing of its own doom, because it actually imitated the sound of chainsaws cutting down its own home." See the video of the lyrebirds many talents here. In addition to that astounding display of mimicry, the behavior of many other animals continue to be influenced by tech. An article published by National Geographic reveals that songbirds have begun to mimic certain kinds of cellphone ringtones, elephants in Africa are producing sounds that are reminiscent of trucks driving on nearby roads, and whales have been observed imitating the sonar signals used by oceangoing vessels. While such mimicry by animals may or may not be evidence that technology is harmful to nature, it is a warning sign that suggests caution and careful study.

The lyrebird’s plight is obvious - a loss of habitat due to deforestation. So the lyrebird’s observed response is to sing of the harbinger of its doom, chainsaws. Whales imitation of human-produced sonar may also be an allusion to demise. Credible evidence strongly suggests that intense sonar signals from American navel vessels have repeatedly injured whales and other sea creatures - in some cases fatally.

Conclusion

With the prevalence of technology in the industrialized and developing nations of the world today, the watchword is ABSURD. When a kitchen appliance needs a cable box and DVD player, that’s absurd. If an award-winning environmentalist uses electricity and paper like they are inexhaustible commodities, that’s absurd. And if humans with car alarms, cell phones, and chainsaws are being imitated by animals, that too is absurd.
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