Moore: Technology too smart for our own good

I was watching an episode of Star Trek. Captain Kirk went to a wall, pushed a button and asked the computer to look up all of the information in the data banks on the earth colony of Tarsus IV.

In a matter of moments, the female voice responded with several pieces of information.

I looked down at my iPhone and realized that Captain Kirk had nothing on me. I could do the same thing on my phone without getting up and going to the wall.

But I’m not so sure all this technology is a good thing.

There’s a certain stability we humans get from having enough common sense to learn and know how to do things for ourselves. I’m afraid that common sense is ebbing away because people have become so dependent on electronic devices.

Let’s take my wife’s vacuum cleaner as an example. Our daughter graciously bought it for us. It’s called a Roomba. Remember on The Jetsons where Rosie the maid was a robot and she cleaned the house? Part of her job was to vacuum.

Well, this Roomba, which we named Iris, doesn’t look like Rosie but it is a robot vacuum cleaner. It’s flat, round, about a foot in diameter, and syncs to the same phone I use to get information about Tarsus IV.

No longer do we have to use an upright or canister vacuum and clean the floors ourselves. My wife has programmed Iris to turn on twice a week and go around the house all by itself.

Somehow, Iris can see objects and go around them. And she remembers where she’s been. So, when she goes back to her charging station to refill on electricity, she knows where to go to finish vacuuming.

My wife went to see the grandkids for two weeks. That’s when I found out that if you leave the patio door open, Iris will take a drive across the patio and nosedive off the retaining wall.

I tried to stop her using my phone, but all I could get was more information on Tarsus IV.

Then there’s Alexa. It’s a round speaker-looking device people put in their houses so they can tell it to turn lights on and off, turn on the radio or TV — or to ask for information on Tarsus IV.

I’m not sure at what point we decided we were too lazy to get up and turn the lights on and off, but I guess it came and went, because it looks as if the time is here.

I’ve always been paranoid about big brother anyway, so the thought of having a device in my house that can listen to everything we say is just too Orwellian for this guy.

This high tech isn’t limited to vacuums and light switches. Now they also sell “Smart Appliances.”

You can buy a refrigerator that will alert you when you’re low on milk or other groceries. Why do you need a refrigerator to do that? That’s what kids are for. They’ll alert you immediately that their Cocoa Puffs have no milk by yelling at you through the bathroom door. You don’t need a smart appliance.

Even my watch talks to me. I bought an Apple Watch because it reminded me of Dick Tracy. I thought it would be cool to be able to make phone calls, send texts, or look up Tarsus IV on my wristwatch.

And it does all of those things. But for some reason, it also sends me messages when it thinks I’ve been sitting too long.

“Time to get up and walk,” one message said. “Breathe,” another one exclaimed.

Look, smart watch, I already have a wife and a doctor yelling at me to exercise. I don’t need you jumping on the bandwagon. And by the way, instead of texting me about my sedentary lifestyle, why didn’t you save Iris from skydiving off the wall? Obviously, you’re not that smart.

I guess there are folks who embrace all this new technology, but I think we’re all becoming a bunch of mindless drones by becoming so reliant on it. And I think my concerns about privacy are warranted.

I was at the house of a friend who has one of those Alexa devices. I told him I was sure the government was listening to everything thing he says. He told me that was ridiculous and he laughed and laughed. Then Alexa laughed too.

And then she gave us both an update on Tarsus IV.

— John Moore is a Whitehouse resident. His column appears Friday. His book, “Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now,” is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Today's Bible verse

“But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.”

— Psalm 22:19

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