Why technology has truly taken over our lives.
I was sitting comfortably by my desk as my daughter suddenly came up from behind me and said “Boo”. As any steadfast, middle-aged warrior of the suburbs would do in this situation, I screamed “Hey”, to which another voice replied: “G’day, means hello in Australia”. Still recovering from having had the life scared out of me, I looked around and wondered who had just spoken? I am not what the industry would describe as an “early adapter”. It took me ten years to switch from LPs to CDs and by the time I had chosen my first digital camera, our smart phones had made them obsolete. So, the thought of me conversing with Siri or Bixby via my mobile is utterly absurd. Certainly, I can say for sure that never before had I been addressed by a computer voice from my phone, which interjected itself into my conversation.
There are many lessons here, and certainly this blog post could go off-piste on many tangents in an instant. Foremost though, this whole episode made one thing abundantly clear to me: we are no longer in control. The thing is, I don’t know why my phone started speaking to me. Maybe the voice activation feature had been accidently engaged or maybe my phone has been listening to me this whole time and only chose now, this very moment, to go public. Fact is, something or someone was listening.
I take my phone everywhere. Lest I remain disconnected from the world. I get my email, I can receive and send messages via dozens of apps to anyone I know (or don’t know), and people can even call me if they feel like going analog. We are connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week and on average we check our beloved little handheld computer 52 times a day. If not comfortably sitting in the breast pocket of my coat, I tend to carry my phone lovingly in my hand and I place it next to me at every opportunity when I sit down, including the lavatories. In other words, our phones are connected to us, they are part of us, virtually all communication goes through them and apparently they are also listening in on our conversations when we are talking to each other.
Scary stuff? It’s been going on for a while: credit cards track what we spend, GSM systems track where we drive, the bank is monitoring where we send our money, the government is making sure we pay our taxes, and the internet giants are collecting endless amounts of data on everything we do in a digital world. I suppose, it is about time we started talking to the system that has been actively monitoring our lives for such a long time. It’s a good thing that we can finally speak to someone about the inhumanity of having our privacy taken away from us. If only my phone was better at understanding me. Siri: How much longer till Judgment Day?