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Editorial – January 2019: Technology, the final button.

January 6, 2019 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone.

As you’re reading this editorial, then you know something about technology. Perhaps not an integral as, say, a programmer and hopefully not a hacker, but you do know a few things to make it work and not scare you. On occasions, you might not even need technical help but can sort out problems yourself. I suspect for many of you, the knowledge of a reboot is better than giving something a thump to make it work these days. I recently discovered that with my diabetic blood test meter when it says that a new cassette is faulty, that pulling it out and putting it back in sorted the problem out. Ergo, instincts win out over total trust in technology when it says something is faulty.

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Technology is taking over the world and, if you go by MSN feeds, it’s replacing everything. I have to confess to being more than a little concerned and a little confused by this kind of news. Mostly because only a third of the population of the world use computer tech and just what are they going to do instead? Are they going to think the rest of the world has entered the Twilight Zone when no one and nothing responds to them anymore?

Are we going to insist that everyone is processed when they enter a technology-heightened nation? This doesn’t take into account the poor or those who can’t master computers. As my example above points out, you shouldn’t trust total reliability on technology but some commonsense is always helpful. Lose that capability and we are totally behoven to the machine and the worse aspect of Science Fiction would have won.

Unlike the typical SF examples, few if any added the commerce aspect. I think we should we be worried if we put all our reliance on specific hardware like smartphones and saving things to the Cloud. If you don’t pay your fees, no more access. Ergo, lost of identity and personal items. You will be owned by a company that even a government can’t control. A lot of people will become pariahs with no access to things associated with their identities.

Ideal worlds rarely work because they assume things never change. Utopias are boring places. When you consider how much the world is changing right now, I doubt if there’s going to be any single peak. If anything, we need a lot more diversity in technology, even if it’s for a statistical prevention of mechanical failure. It’s also going to destroy any natural talents. If you have an in-built natural compass, you’re going to have an automatic advantage against anyone who’s smartphone has broken down. What do you do when the Net is so busy any action is going to be stacked up waiting to go through? You must have seen for yourself how websites slow down when there are too many people wanting access. We’ve even seen it at SFC from time to time.

I often wonder at future SF realities that the self-justification that there is little computer-tech in personal use is because they realised the dangers of too much dependency on it was wrong. All right, so the early SF writers with no access to our current reality wouldn’t have known this but this would at least have predicted that this is not a healthy way to go had they known. Even so, it makes for an interesting retro-historical possibility than making their books out-of-date.

Too much reliance on technology is ultimately going to turn our society moronic or, at least, headless chickens when anything goes wrong. Look at what happened when one of the mobile phone networks broke down in 2018. Everyone tied into one system is asking for trouble. Even more so, in a few generations. In the world of the high-tech, it is the programmer or hacker that would be deified not the user. Even worse, we don’t even know who the programmers are that we are letting run our lives. Mind you, people are used to putting their trust in something that apparently doesn’t exist.

That’s only a small step for the minds of many. All we need is an egotist, a tyrant or someone with a homicidal bent and they could quietly wreck the world before anyone caught on. Hmm…they are already out there. A nuclear detonation would wipe out a lot of computer data in less than a swipe. As to software, until the last button is pressed to activate it, a computer program is just so much code. When you add Artificial Intelligence into the mix with its own intentions let alone confused conflicts, then we have bigger problems. An AI accepting that there is an after-life is less likely to worry about killing anyone in the here and now.

The worrying thing about all of this is that from the likes of HG Wells’ with ‘The Time Machine’ to a multitude of other SF authors and films, there have been warnings about pulling too much reliance into our technology than ourselves with dire consequences. As commented about the less reliance in future SF in computers could also have be seen as an unconscious forewarning to tread carefully. Although Science Fiction isn’t really there to predict the future, it can show the consequences of particular actions. Oddly, in modern SF, this has been superseded by just adventures with nary an undertone to look at these issues. SF authors really need to look at ourselves and societies more and question how we look at do things and where it could lead.

Obviously, I don’t want to put the clock back. It’s still safely on the mantelpiece. However, we need to see balanced arguments for and against any decision before making any significant technological choice. We must also have the ability to say we were wrong and have a recount when previous evidence is shown to be wrong.

My comments have nothing to do with being a luddite but more to do with the dangers of being totally reliant on technology to the exclusion of all else. When we don’t question that, then we are jumping into the abyss not knowing what is going to happen next and that is always very dangerous.

Thank you, take care, good night and don’t count your digital chickens, they might make a mistake and say you’re at fault.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

A Zen thought: No one paints in custard anymore.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: The ability to question when no one offers any answers because they clearly haven’t thought things through far enough.

The Reveal: The problem with going all digital is the loss of collateral. You have something you can trade or sell. With everything digital, there is nothing. Do we really want to be that minimalist or not have anything you can trade in?

With the likes of DVDs and blu-rays, you also have a lot of extras and audio commentaries which are not only an extra to educate but also of historical importance in the future. Don’t give them up too readily.

Observation: Be very careful of when you save files in any form of ‘Word’ as the originals are not dumped in the Recycle Bin, only into a back-up format, providing you’ve made sure it’s turned on. Although we often take it for granted that we continually make back-ups of all our important files, this is something that can be overlooked. Fortunately, when I nearly this last month, I had the sense to look for the WKP or back-up file (always useful to have your File Manager showing all files to pick it out) and saved some really valuable data. I then made a copy as the one to follow and a second one as a back-up. Don’t forget to regularly back-up your files.

Observation: Considering that every actor who’s played the Doctor starting with short hair has allowed their hair to grow with each season, will Jodie Whittaker follow the same trend?

Observation: I thought that there was some consistency with the TARDIS’ windows and then recently spotted in the Capaldi regeneration that they were whited-out in a particular order to spell a ‘T’ in each window.

Observation: Knowing you’re on the right website, especially for transactions, is something we rely on the Favourites menu option. If you want to add a bit more unseen security, don’t use a website’s home page as your entry point. Select another page that you’re familiar with that wouldn’t be a hacker’s choice. With places like the long river website, the second thing you’d select is their search engine and that can be accessed from anywhere.

Observation: I’ve been giving some thought to Kane’s inner cap in ‘Alien’ and its disappearance when his space helmet was removed. I think we’ve all assumed that Kane was actually wearing it securely on his head. However, if loose, then when the facehugger melted through the helmet and secured itself to Kane’s face, might have pushed it back into the helmet.

Feeling Stressed: Only another 12 months for a year to fly by. Use it wisely.

 

Category: Culture, World getting weirder

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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