Once I read a quote by Christian Lous Lange who is a Norwegian historian and a Nobel Prize winner. He said: “Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master.”
I quickly paused and reflected on this quote and the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. And the more it made sense, the more it scared me. Modern world has become totally dependent and almost cannot function without technology. We as humans have become lazy, our brains have been shifted from coming up with answers and solutions to googling them. And all these technologies come with a price that our planet is paying for. All this leads me to the question I’m trying to ask and hopefully to answer in this article on technologies we can live without perfectly well.
Let’s have a look at some gadgets people are using and hyping about, which make no sense to me and I can totally see this world without any of them.
Robot vacuum cleaner
In recent years, we have seen the rise of the robot vacuum and how everybody was getting overexcited about having one of those. The idea behind this invention never added up for me! Like, what’s wrong with the traditional vacuum cleaner that suddenly we were in desperate need of a robotized one?! Are we becoming that lazy that we need to invent a robot to do a chore that will take no more than minutes, depending on the area, of course? What strikes me even more, is that these robot cleaners are extremely slow. For instance, if it takes you 30 minutes to clean your home, this thing will need approximately 90 minutes to clean the same area. Traditional vacuum cleaners with a strong suction force make it easy to clean dust and dirt from every corner of your home. However, robot vacuum cleaners can’t reach the nooks and corners where most of the dust piles up. What’s the point of this invention then?! Meanwhile, we are harming the environment with every step of the process of making one machine and we end up with something we already have, but you know, a robot which has less efficiency and is much more time consuming. It’s probably because we can’t bend anymore.
Some might argue that an electric toothbrush is necessary or more useful than the manual one. I asked different dentists in different countries around the world, not a single one of them pointed any essential difference that should encourage people to prefer it over the manual toothbrush. This again makes me question our human nature. Are we really that slothful? Does our sluggishness drive us to become so creative in inventing new things to perform these quick and small duties for us!? What is so tiring or hard about brushing your teeth with the normal toothbrush? It might take less than 5 minutes!
The consumeristic trend in our society has made us blind and this always reminds me of the line from the movie Fight Club that says “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
This might be the most useless technology of all time (in my opinion). Basically, Alexa is a virtual assistant AI technology. Its main job is to play music, provide information, deliver news and sports scores, tell you the weather, control your smart home and even allow Prime members to order products from Amazon. All these tasks we can already do with one touch on our phones or one click on our computers. So what’s the point of it again?
The thing we fail to really understand about these technologies is that we are actually paying money to give our privacy away. Once you buy Alexa, you’re basically saying goodbye to your privacy because what Alexa does is to record everything it hears and then all that data is being stored and processed. So imagine you’re having a passionate sex with a loved one, Alexa is watching you and recording what’s happening and all this will be stored. There are more than 100m Alexa-enabled devices in our homes. But are they fun or are they the beginning of an Orwellian nightmare!
The Laudroid, folding clothes for you, the Smart salt dispenser, telling you how much salt is healthy for you, the remote control cushion, the Bluetooth hairbrush, the Bluetooth toaster? What’s up with that? Really? You can’t press a button or brush your hair, fold a few pieces of clothing? Seriously?
Technology is meant to be used, not to live our lives for us. We are becoming less physically active and more reliant on a screen, never stopping to think that one day we will be those space humans in Wall-E who hover and float around in chairs, obese and putrid, the epitome of sloths. My only fear is that if we continue to rely on technology, we will reverse all the progress we have worked so hard to achieve.