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  • Writer's pictureRichard A. Jones

Going Fast, But Lost

Updated: Mar 1

Today, my old curmudgeon nature has been aroused. I was warned yesterday that my phone was going to be upgraded, so I should have known that it was coming, I just didn’t know the details.

As I have said before, my definition of an upgrade is this: Whatever you thought you had, you will never find, what once took four clicks, will now require six, whatever you want to do will now cost more, take longer, and be less reasonable than the way it was before.

This morning I woke up to find that the background on my phone had been changed. My preferred soft greens and blues had now been replaced with bright reds and oranges. I tried to access my contacts, but there was a window open that wanted to change the way my contacts appear. It wouldn’t let me dismiss it. I either had to continue or do it later.

I then sat down to check my emails on my computer. My phone rang, but not just my phone. Now the ring comes through loudly on my computer. I guess they thought I might have left my phone in the bedroom and they needed to make sure that I would never miss a call. What this "upgrade" really seems to mean is that now they can bombard me with more adds, suggestions, and notifications. And I don't even know who "they" are. Thanks for nothing!

Actually my curmudgeoning (not really a word) didn't begin this morning. The veins in my neck began to bulge a couple of weeks ago when I got a notice from my insurance company about a new feature they were providing for my automobile insurance. Isn’t it wonderful how them making more money is cloaked in language explaining it as a benefit for me.

This great new “benefit” comes in the form of an app (of course it does). This app will now track my driving: My speed, whether I stop at stop signs, if I am talking on my phone or not, my mileage, and other movements. Of course they reassure me that they will not track my location. If I am on the phone while Barb is driving, I will have to alert them to this seating arrangement.

So underneath all the hype, this is what I hear my insurance company saying: You can trust us, but we can’t trust you, so we want to keep track of what you do when you are in your vehicle. If you don’t get this app, your premium will increase to the tune of about sixty dollars a month, or $720 per year. Should I thank them now or later?

Last week I heard a radio program talking about AI. In our Colorado ranching community this use to mean artificial insemination in cattle. Now, of course, it means artificial intelligence. An excited interviewee was explaining how in the near future AI will respond not only to our voices, but to our thoughts. My computer already finishes words for me as I’m typing. Usually it isn’t even the word I wanted. I cringe to think what it would do with my thoughts. What is the end game in all of this, that we will no longer have to do anything?

I’m sure AI offers some very positive possibilities, but It seems as if the only direction we have in our technology age is, 'if it can be done, we will do it.' This reminds me of the airline pilot who spoke to his passengers on the intercom, saying, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is that we are making great time, the bad news is that we are lost.” Going fast and making progress are not the same things.



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