The Norman Transcript

Features

March 30, 2013

Empathy chip, where are you?

NORMAN — To some, technology and all the wonderful “can’t live without it” gadgets it spawns is a wondrous thing. To others, it means yet another newfangled nuisance to deal with and understand.

The nuisance aspect stems from several sources the most irritating being, built in obsolescence. When it comes to electronic gadgets, cell phones and computers in particular, the terms “latest” or “fastest” are relative. Meaning, whatever gizmo you just invested an arm, a leg and perhaps a big toe in is the ultimate product for what is a millisecond in the grand scheme of the technology gods.

The same has always been true of cars and appliances. Surely you must have realized by now that all the bells and whistles you think you want on a car are available pretty much at the same time. However, the companies are quite miserly when it comes to doling out the goodies. As a result, that nifty “the car parks itself” feature or the camera which allows you to watch what you crash into and other extras are made available piecemeal in order to entice the low willpower car buyers to upgrade and purchase a new car more often then necessity dictates.

Folks have become conditioned to want the latest and (they assume) the best and most advanced products available. True need and/or user capability rarely enters into the decision to purchase such products. That may explain why people who are clearly technologically challenged will own smart phones, but have trouble making a simple phone call.

On the other hand, babies born since the explosion of technology are almost genetically predisposed to be technologically savvy. Could it be because parents have graduated from using the television as a babysitter, to introducing techie gadgets and toys almost at the moment of their offspring’s birth?

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