The Norman Transcript

March 30, 2013

Empathy chip, where are you?


The Norman Transcript

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?

Why is it we automatically assume computers, in particular, are capable of reading our minds and performing other minor miracles? Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but wouldn’t it be grand if it were true?

In either case, how often do we hear someone say “I know the computer can do this but I can’t make it perform according to my expectations”? Obviously, your expectations are unreasonable or the computer is not as smart as you thought. Or, (insert gasp) you are a technically incompetent piece of carbon matter.

Believe it or not, technology can be a hindrance. Take for example, the ubiquitous use of cell phones and all their capabilities.

Whether they are young or well-seasoned, there is a direct correlation between using said gadget and the speed with which they drive. Weaving in traffic, also known as not driving between the lines, or slowing down to a crawl on the freeway are signs the attention of the driver in front of you is on something other than the road.

How often have you noticed someone holding the cell phone in front of them, yelling? Clearly, those are one-sided “conversations.” Or, the speaker is unclear on the concept of how telephones operate and thinks they have to shout in order to be heard.

The perfect solution to our problems with technology is the Empathy Chip.

Once implanted under the skin it syncs up with whatever new gadget comes near it (similar to a Bluetooth) and instantly provides instant omniscience, at least with regard to the use and operation of gadgets.

Please note “omniscience” in the generally accepted form of the word is not available in chip form, yet.

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and author. Check out her novel “The Dionysus Connection” on Amazon or ask your bookstore to order it for you. Visit her website www.elizabethcowan.com.

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