Have you thanked your computer today?

Getting serious for once.

Do you think all tech is good tech? For instance, I used to mentally cheer with each new scientific breakthrough in the papers, each new discovery of the solar system, each dexterous robot to make international headlines.


When it comes to apps, and robots, after much thought I simply must draw the line. Some advances really needn’t be made. Let me explain.

Imagine you trip and cut your forehead in the year 2057. You need to visit the hospital for a checkup. The computer makes your appointment with the clinic. The robot receptionist directs your case to the doctor’s room, and inside…a robot doctor.

You get your stitches, take your antibiotics, and leave. Tell me, are you more or less likely to say “thank you” to your service providers in this fully automated future?

Imo, while we still have the same services, and are actually indebted to the robots’ programmers, designers, and technicians, we don’t see them, and hence lose that opportunity to express our gratitude to those who deserve it. And gratitude is fleeting.

To some extent, I think we have already experienced this gulf between human providers and human consumers, which has led to less gratitude, and hence less happiness (remember, gratitude breeds happiness!)

For instance, when we ask Siri what’s the weather, we forget about the human meteorologists who actually designed the weather-mapping programs.

And when our cars become driverless, as Google et al. seem intent on making them, we may say farewell to accidents, but also to the chance to see the real people who get us safely from A to B.

Technology becomes a mask, hiding the faces of people who help run our society. By not looking them in the eyes, we feel less connected to them, and they to us.

There was a time when people served other people, and it was obvious that was so. Now it’s less clear, and perhaps easier to forget.

So have you thanked your computer today? By which I mean the people who made that amazing gadget work?

As with the app that hides workmanship behind slick graphics, or circumvents services provided directly by humans, the more we get our map directions, music and entertainment through things, the less glad we are to be providers, and the less gratitude we feel as consumers.

And that is (quite literally) sad.


Am I making any sense? Do like or drop a comment if you have a contribution for my thought bank. Cheers!

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