The Online response!!
The Online response
I recently hosted my question on ted.com and I got quite a few responses, from different people, and this was one of them.
Oct 28 2012: To the extent these gadgets reduce risk in lives they are a good thing, but I begin to wonder about some of the side effects.
GPS: Does this reduce our ability to read maps and figure out the best way to get from point A to point B? I wonder if AAA has received any ‘stranded motorist’ calls from people lost or too paralyzed to drive because a GPS battery died.
Air Conditioning: Has our choice to live in environmentally controlled living spaces reduced our ability to resist diseases and tolerate time spent outdoors?
Cars: How many people even think of walking short distances rather than driving or riding?
Television: How much time do we waste watching TV? Is our ability to read and imagine complex scenarios and thoughts diminished by having it spoon fed to us? What is the long-term mental effects of ‘over-saturation’ of information? Losing satellite or cable is considered a 911 emergency in many households. Does this contribute to family dysfunction?
Computers: How many people are done for the day when the network is down? feel personally threatened by changes to Microsoft products? Live on computer social networks or blogs?
Cell phones: How many people think it is acceptable to be involved in a face-to-face conversation and have it interrupted by a cell phone? How many people feel uncomfortable without their cell phones? How many feel no risk when using a cell phone while driving?
The list goes on.
Although some risk is reduced, I think these devices are not really taking risk or uncertainty out of life as much as they are transferring the risk to other areas were the risks are more obscure or latent. Some of the effects associated with these devices might be long-term social or mental behavior changes that have irreversible consequences later in life. I always use “How would nature solve the problem?” as a measuring stick. To the extent these devices reduce our ability to live peacefully in nature, I think they add long-term uncertainty and create dependencies.