By Keith M.
– Music review
I love this piano piece called “Living Light” by Sophie Hutchings: Listen
I am not a technophobe but sometimes devices and computer systems seem unwarranted and not helpful. I believe I should be in control and have control over my choices and how I do things.
Why does technology frustrate or impede our lives sometimes? Surely the point of machines and new processes is to improve our lives and make us more comfortable, yet seemingly unfailingly they can throw up obstacles and setbacks whenever they are introduced and often for many years after their emergence. Examples abound: public transit ticket machines, ID or PC card driven photocopiers, electronic phone answering services, CCTV camera networks, compulsory online electronic submission systems for personal information, the emerging technology of self-driven cars, etc. The intent is to introduce greater efficiency and security and frequently this in the name of “customer service”, but often it would seem mainly for the benefit of impersonal organisations as a priority over and above the needs of the person using a device or service. When these technologies fail (being fallible due to the limitations of their designs, wear and tear, etc) they produce more instances of discomforting situations and they have no accountability for failure much less those human engineers and bureaucrats who introduced them. The technology is allowed to persist until a newer solution comes along.
There is an idea that maybe it is we who facilitate the machines and make them more fruitful and successful and not the other way round – are we heading towards a future where human life (and human value) is increasingly seen as irrelevant? What does this mean for those with a sensitive disposition? How do we feel about these technical changes? Do you feel hemmed in or do they create greater feelings of stress or isolation, or alternatively maybe you feel a greater sense of peace and empowerment because technology allows you to make decisions and structure your life with less pressure from other people?
– Media review
There’s a Radio National podcast you might want to hear featuring a discussion about the vagaries of the human brain. It’s about a book called “The Idiot Brain” and it features an interview with Welsh author, neuroscientist and stand-up comedian Dr Dean Burnett. He talks about how the brain operates as a somewhat independent evaluation system and how it sometimes countermands our better judgement. Very interesting and recommended once you get past the vocal nonsense routine of the program introduction.