Technology: Friend or Foe

Despite my mathematics background, I confess to being a bit of a Luddite. I hate updates to my devices because the paths I used to take from A to Z are often changed. ‘If it works, don’t fix it’ is my motto. I view apps as the clutter of modern civilization.

I once texted my daughter using my voice saying I was at the Heifners so she’d know I’d be coming soon. I was puzzled when she texted back asking if I wanted her to pick me up. I had been at a woman’s march on a warm day and what she received was that I was at the Health Nurse.

My husband has set a security camera so any movement on our front porch sends a signal to his cell to tinkle every few seconds. Then he leaves his phone within hearing of my woman cave and goes off to his man cave.

I can get my desktop in a crazy state with a fumble of a finger, but recovery takes research on my iPad and 12 steps so I can get out of all caps, or type at all or some other weird undesirable state.

On the other hand I can’t imagine life without email, word processing, instant access to information, convenient shopping, and more.

I have mixed feelings about robots replacing human beings, but there’s one use on the horizon too time consuming for humans. Someone has invented an AI way of telling the difference between weeds and plants and distinguish between plants. Instead of blasting an entire field with weed killer, tiny amounts of herbicide can be administered to weeds and volunteer unwanted plants using robotic spigots and reducing herbicide use by 90%. John Deere has purchased the patent. What I like best about organic is the lack of herbicides so this seems a compromise between organic and mass produced food.

Machines, which eliminate back-breaking work harvesting food are being used, along with self-driving tractors.

Any innovation requires proper use for maximum benefit. Given the number of innovations, it’s not surprising we are discovering downsides like lack of privacy, difficulty separating truth from fiction, anonymous online attacks, and addiction to social media/online games.

Tiny computers, like bacteria, may be in everything soon


The tech industry’s goal is to put tiny computers into you name it: microwaves, door locks, contact lenses, clothes, toasters, refrigerators, industrial robots, fish tanks, sex toys, light bulbs, toothbrushes, motorcycle helmets. All to make it so we don’t have to get up out of our chairs and  have time to sign up for gym memberships.

Full disclosure:  I have Luddite in my DNA. I view the explosion of unnecessary apps as the clutter of modern life. Once I have software and devices I like, I hate updates that move things around and change paths to my objectives.

Here’s the problem. If this computer-in-everything idea takes off, not only our privacy but our security will be destroyed. Computer hackers have already used the fact that baby monitors are hooked up to the internet to access home computers and spread major viruses. Similarly, Alexa has been proven compromisible. Security consultant, Bruce Schneier, is concerned. He explores the threats posed by the internet of things in “Click Here to Kill Everybody.”

Schneier argues, “In a roboticized world, hacks would not just affect your data but could endanger your property, your life and even national security.” However, nobody but nobody is doing anything about it. Industry likes new features to entice buyers, and these little handy-dandy computer thingies are cheap. Not industry’s problem if they provide a way into your internet services. That leaves government, which currently has no plans, usually closing the barn door after the cows got out to display my Iowa upbringing.

Quoting the nytimes article, “Mr. Schneier says only government intervention can save us from such emerging calamities. He calls for reimagining the regulatory regime surrounding digital security in the same way the federal government altered its national security apparatus after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Among other ideas, he outlines the need for a new federal agency, the National Cyber Office, which he imagines researching, advising and coordinating a response to threats posed by an everything-internet.” Presumably, this office could ensure the security of our elections, something currently given short shrift by government. 2018 could be bad.

I agree. Better nanny-government than a mob of our possessions waiting for us to go to bed to hatch their evil intentions. I know I’m not buying these infected products. Already I am creeped out by things that want to talk with me.

Last minute notice of special Events on October 13th:  I will participate in an Indie author fair at the Livermore library from 2:00 to 4:00 after Andy Weir of The Martian fame and Ann Parker of the Silver Rush series present from 1:00 to 2:00. I will have copies of my novel Lower World.