Call me paranoid but the one thing that worries me about technology is people. Let me explain: A couple of weeks back the NHS and a lot else crashed because some pointless, swivel-eyed cretin though it would be funny to disrupt the world. In the UK the sick, halt and lame had their appointments delayed and there was much pandemonium and it was all down to cheapskate thinking and the retention of outdated technology.
The world is run by accountants to whom the bottom line is all and, seemingly, to hell with the consequences. At British Airways huge numbers of eager holidays makers had their plans horribly disrupted because, allegedly, of cost-cutting (denied by the boss, it is reported). These sort of things shouldn’t happen but they do and with alarming regularity.
So, the technology is invented and in this fast-moving age we just accept it whether we actually need it or not. New homes being built near me have Bluetooth enabled ‘smart’ Utility meters and not one but two technology media centres in rooms, for example. Increasingly it runs our lives and, increasingly, it is in our cars.
Many cars are now sold to us as semi-autonomous lifestyle technology devices, not as transport. Renault are currently advertising a car that parks itself with a voice-over that says words to the effect of ‘while you get on with the important things in life’. This is of course nonsensical hyperbole, like most car advertising today. What will you do in the couple of minutes that it takes? Soft boil an egg? This is all becoming very boring.
Cars for drivers are still thankfully out there. The FIAT 124 Spider that I’ll be reviewing soon is one such and it is brilliant.
Nevertheless, technology will take over your life if you let it and with it, like the changing of the seasons and the tides of the sea, will come human error. Complacency and reliance seems to overwhelm people to the extent that they ignore warnings and dark portents and then wonder why their systems crash. The result, is events like the NHS and BA debacles. Avoidable balls-ups placed firmly at the door of humans.
What happens when these errors or faults occur on the roads or in the factories? What happens to autonomous cars when the technology breaks down? What happens when technology is hacked or attacked? A machine either works or it doesn’t as anyone who has owned computers will tell you so what happens when our devices shut down?
I still know how to change a plug and or re-wire a fuse. How many people do not? I can fix my car because it is mechanical and pleasingly light on the latest mysterious technology. As, broadly speaking, a motoring writer how long before I need to be replaced by a tech nerd?
If we do not understand that technology is fine in its place but we can’t in the end rely totally on it then we will be pretty helpless when the machine stops. Again. Geoff Maxted