Your Call Is Very Important To Us

That annoyingly androgynous reassurance “your call is very important to us” must stop! So must that digital shaman lurking inside my computer who insolently freezes me in place with an abrupt “logging off!” After childhood years of taking orders from parents, teachers, crossing-guards and little neighborhood thugs, I had foolishly assumed I was free at last.

Such was not to be. Or have you noticed too?

Instead of actual barbarians, I now live in the control of virtual barbarians. Desktops, smart-phones, banking accounts, billing accounts, airline ticketing. Each, by the way, we were told by Silcon Valley would be working for US.

Just when I’d given up any pretense of being master of my own electronic fate, the blue-jeaned wizards out there have begun plotting to replace smart-phones with smart-lens. Oh, you’re no longer surprised at anything either? Researchers at the University of Washington have been experimenting with tiny antennas, miniature circuits, and LEDs inside lens for rabbits. What has apparently worked for Thumper is now planned for us. Moving us one giant step closer to the time “we’ll have full-fledged streaming in our contact lens.”

Wait a minute….!

If someone in the backseat of your car offers you a glitzy new widget that can triple your highway speed, don’t you scan the unpredictable climbs and curves ahead before saying Yes? OK, let me correct that. Some of us would. Probably not the young, the adventurous, the seekers, the boundary-breakers. They’re likely to remind the rest of us how all through history the cautious hedged their bets. With fire… the wheel… Galileo’s telescope…Gutenberg’s printing press…Marconi’s radio…Salk’s vaccine…and Steve Jobs’ Mac.

Count me cautious.

Among the many important civilizational shifts that have occurred in our Western World over the last 500 years, few are any more profound than the ascent of science & technology. Their works have changed our world for the better, faster in these five centuries than happened in the previous fifty! But thereby inviting this question from the front seat: Why? Faster civilizations like faster cars are obliged to understand why dazzling innovation actually fits into and serves our best purposes?

Lets put it this way. The wizards should be challenged to share their laboratories with the watchdogs. Those watchdogs otherwise known as philosophers, theologians, poets and worriers who can’t help asking at each new dazzle: Why are we doing this…?

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