Thursday, April 28, 2011

Technology - a ticking time bomb

By Mike Ullery

Chief Photographer

Every day, Americans continue to build on our love/hate relationship with technology.

Some love and embrace technology and all of its gadgets. Others detest our computerized world. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

Technology is great — when it works.

Hollywood has been fond of making cataclysmic movies for decades. I doubt that anyone can count the number of ways that movie makers have brought our country, or the world, to the brink of destruction. Computers of one sort or another have been responsible for the havoc caused in some of these scenarios.

There is a certain air of reality, or at least plausibility, to how our ever-increasing dependence on technology could prove to be our undoing.

I don’t believe that it takes a genius to figure out that if a person or group could disable our technology, ie: our computer systems, they could bring us to our knees.

One has to look no further than the recent Internet issues brought about when, one of the country’s largest web servers, went down, followed less than a week later by a hacker stealing Sony PlayStation user information. An enormous number of websites served by Amazon were rendered inoperative. Sony customers now live in fear that their personal information is in the hands of criminals.

What is even more scary is that a large percentage of our population, especially those under, say, 30 years old, have grown up with computers and their benefits. Many of them have no idea how to operate, or survive, in a society that is not dependent on a machine.

I don’t believe that it is much of an exaggeration to say that most of our under-20 generation would be lost, literally, if someone took away their cell phones.

If I were looking to wage “war” against America, I would look for ways to disrupt our technology. We have stopped using our brains, our wits and our ingenuity. Most all of our “lives” are computer-based. What better way to defeat us than to take away our computers?

How many of us are thrown for a loss when we drop our cell phone in the toilet? It is not, so much, the loss of the phone, but the phone numbers, email addresses, and calendar that also “goes down the toilet” with the phone.

We are too dependent on machines. Period. Our kids can type. Our kids can’t write. Our kids can add, subtract, multiply and divide — on a calculator. Our kids can Google but few can use a dictionary and even fewer even know what an encyclopedia is.

Adding insult to injury, more and more service manuals for everything from cars and trucks to washers and dryers are available online … only. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great convenience. But, what if something just knocks us offline?

Some of you are going to say, “well, our technology is redundant or, it is backed up.” Technology is not infallible. It does fail. It will fail.

As we put more and more responsibility for everything, from our daily personal lives to the very security of our country, in the “hands” of computers we are edging further out on an ever-weakening limb. It is not a question of “if” there will be a failure. The question is “when” it will fail.

In the event of such a catastrophe, those who lose the least, and those who will recover most quickly, will be those who still believe in using their mind and those who are ready and able to use their hands and their brains to recover.

The Darwin adage, “survival of the fittest,” still holds true today.

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