Tuesday, February 10

"Smart" Technology

AI Black Box "BB" - the epitome of snark
When we read the Halo series (fantastic, by the way!), it was impossible not to love Black Box ("BB") the
snarky, uber-intelligent AI who watches over his humans with single minded devotion.There was pretty much nothing that BB didn't know or couldn't do - unless it required hands, of course. But that's what crew is for, right?

Although smart technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, I am sadly not nearly as in love with the prospect of its current and anticipated applications. Rural Revolution recently posted about a smart mattress cover (currently in development) that wirelessly integrates with and controls your other devices ranging from televisions to lights to coffee makers to the thermostat. Simultaneously, NBC News posted about Samsung's smart tv. 

Beyond the inevitable "bugs" that need to get worked out of such systems - RR readers had some hysterical comments on that aspect of things - there is the minorly alarming reality that with the installation of such devices/systems everything you say and do in your own home is recorded and forwarded to third (and fourth and fifth and, well you get the idea) parties!

Current implications are bad enough:  Have an argument with your spouse in the same room as the tv? It's recorded, stored, and will be provided to authorities on request! Bash the occupant of the White House? Don't be surprised if Homeland Security shows up to have a "chat" about your being a terrorist.

Future applications are far worse. How long before our national healthcare system, horrifically overburdened and looking to cut costs, starts using the information from your smart mattress against you? "I'm sorry, Mr. Smith, but we can't pay for any additional treatments. You're getting less than six hours of sleep a night, and continuing to consume caffeine - it says right here you have a full pot of coffee auto-brewed every morning! If you're not going to abide by the basic health recommendations (eight hours of sleep a night, limited caffeine), you simply aren't eligible for additional care on our dime."

I fully appreciate that these things are technological marvels, and that there may legitimately be useful applications for them - for someone recovering from serious injuries or with otherwise limited mobility, being able to fully control their space without leaving their bed might be both extremely helpful and cost-effective (by reducing the need for human assistance).

However, the nutritionist in me is appalled at the larger implications of this. We already know that our extensive exposure to electromagnetic pollution (or "dirty electricity") has a vast array of negative consequences on the body. What happens when we double, triple or quadruple our exposure by surrounding ourselves literally every waking moment in homes and offices saturated with integrated "smart" technology? 

Anyone who has ever read science fiction knows what happens when the seemingly minor glitches cause the complete collapse of electronically dependent facilities and/or civilizations. I'd wager each of us has dealt with the nightmares caused by this at the small-scale level - a presentation or project lost, the mistyping of a decimal point - or seen it play out on the news (tip: taking a selfie with a dead body on your smart phone is a super dumb idea). 

Although I'm sure someday we won't even be able to buy non-smart phones, I will be holding my ground on purchasing, installing or allowing anything more "smart" and "integrated" than that in my home! I'd encourage you to do the same...

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