Smart Gadgets v. Smart People

[image retrieved from Engadget.com]

Flying Car | Invisibility Cloak | Ninja Sphere

Are the technological advancements we are making in recent years causing the populace of the US (or even the world) to become less smart? Depending on who you are, you might have a different complaint that the general public is too stupid for their own good. My wife often jokes about a coded lock on the inside of the house door that would require a person to solve a math or science problem in order to unlock the door and let them out into the wild. But that is beside the point. What I want to talk about right now, is what our future might look like as consumer technology advances to levels we never dreamed, and what authors and movies only tease us with.

It seems like almost every other day, a new smartphone is released, or a major company such as Samsung announces a new smart watch that connects via bluetooth to your other devices. What these “revolutionary” devices are attempting to accomplish is do the things you can’t do, or don’t want to do, or “shouldn’t have to do” as some might put it. Things like monitor your heart rate while jogging (read: FitBit), or act as an alert hub for when you get a call or text (something that is already plainly visible right on your phone). The way things seem to be going, I can only speculate as to what the next ten years will look like. The idea of a flying car seemed so 22nd century to me, but I’ve recently read about a man who built a prototype flying car (linked above)! Or invisible cloaks that render the user imperceptible to the naked eye (also linked)? Sometimes I wake up and think that I’ve fallen into a scene of Bladerunner! Is this ridiculous, awesome, or scary?

If you were to look up Moore’s Law on Google, you’d find that he is recorded satating that processors and such will double in speed and power every year. It might not be that much at first, but geez! Think about it! If the power of technology doubles every year, and there are 20 smartphones released ever year for the next ten years (to put numbers to it without getting too math-y), that would be 10 x 20^2 (or 10 years times 20 phones squared). The result is 4000 smartphones being released every year by the year 2024. Gah!

I know that number may be unrealistic in terms of quantity, but if you apply that to the meta data, development and what we are capable of (or will be), and what the devices themselves are capable of doing, it’s unbelievable! We could have Light Sabers by 2017! Excited! But, I’ve gone through all this to ask the question: what will technology be able to do for us in 10 years? Or a better question would be: In 10 years, what will we not have to do anymore because technology does it for us? I’m talking about the simple tasks like, making to-do lists, closing your garage door, or even warming up the shower. As it stands, there are currently home systems out there that can turn your house into what they’re calling a “smart home.” With a system like that you can turn the lights on as you’re pulling up to your driveway, or even lock or unlock your front door, all from your phone! There’s even a gadget on Kickstarter (the Ninja Sphere) that can tell you where your pets are in the house by going to a website or looking at your phone! I mean, come on, we even have refrigerators that have touch screen computers and TVs in them. Are we really that far gone?

My concern is that since we have become so dependent on technology, what is going to happen if our children or grandchildren get caught in some sort of post apocalyptic scenario where electricity is hard to come by? Satellites have shut down, cell towers are inoperable, TV and radio spew static, or God forbid the internet should crash! What then? They won’t have a freaking clue what to do with themselves! I can see a teenage kid sticking his or her self in the corner crouched in the fetal position, rocking back and forth because they can’t check their crops on FarmVille. Do you see what I am getting at?

Relinquishing our eyes and minds to glossy screens is not a way of life. Life is out there! Waiting to greet you with love… or a sucker punch. Either of which has potential to be more rewarding, both materially and experiencially, than letting your leg muscles atrophy and your gut expand into pantless territory because you couldn’t pull away from Candy Crush.

Please don’t get me wrong! I love technology! The vast majority of today’s digital devices I find to be extremely useful. And if I had enough money, I’d have them all. So, if you haven’t guessed it already, I am talking about maintaining a balance between analog and virtual life. (Balance is another topic I will post on later.) If we let our minds become so akin to pixels behind glass, mental enrichment will diminish along with our quality of life. Not to mention corporate and/or commercial brainwashing, or a great potential for total life destruction by a solitary hacker or phisher. Is it really worth all that? As into technology as I am, I still keep hard copies of important stuff in a file box or my desk. Technology is cool, but having my life in order is cooler.

At the end of it, technological advancements are both awesome and scary for me. Furthermore, total dependency on smart technology is more than likely not a smart move.

Take care of yourself!

Catch you later!

– M

Smart Gadgets v. Smart People

The Real NZT

MODAFINIL

Modafinil ReviewLimitless

I am basing this on the premise of a pill conceived by author Alan Glynn in his book The Dark Fields. Now a movie featuring Bradley Cooper as down and out Eddie Spinola in the retitled Limitless (2011). While this film may not be theatrical gold, it is still a favorite of mine for the obvious reason: the big what-if. What if there actually was a pill that could unlock your entire brain for you to use at your beck and call? What if you could access memories long forgotten? What if you could strut your way to the top of the corporate ladder (or not, depending on your bent) by outperforming your peers? You intrigued? So am I, my friend. As a 30 year old male, I am constantly frustrated by my short term memory. I forget things so easily and it more often than not causes me, and my friends and family, great distress at home and at work. So the concept of a pill that can fix that is more than appealing to me.

Modafinil was originally produced to help people who suffer from narcolepsy – a rare sleeping disorder that causes them to fall asleep when they get excited. (Look up narcoleptic dogs on YouTube. It’s terrible, but hilarious.)* Out of sheer curiosity I went to the website that the guy talks about in the YouTube video above to check out what it would take to get some Modafinil (or Provigil). Based on the currency, I believe it is a British company charging you £29.99 for a 2 weeks supply consisting of 30 pills. On top of that, they want to dock you an extra £9.99 for “standard” 21 day delivery. I plugged those numbers into the converter on my phone and came up with a grand total of $65.65 (USD) for the most basic order. Given you can use a voucher code that they advertise on their home page for an extra 20 pills with every order, but still. Sixty-five dollars to try something that might not even work, AND has potential to cause insomnia, AND I’d have to wait 3 weeks to get? Nah, not quite ready for that. (Mainly because my wife would kill me if I spent that much on something that only might work. And even if it does perform, it may not be to my expectations.)

Even given the potential side effects to my wallet, I am still interested. I mean think about it: those who are struggling with similar memory issues as myself, and who are a decade or two or three older than I am could benefit immensely from this tiny pill! Have trouble staying awake at work? No problem! Can’t focus on that periodical that needs to be submitted yesterday? Piece of cake! Tired of looking stupid in front of your professor and classmates? Shazam! Or what about that old nemesis: can’t remember where you put your keys? … Right?

I mean, I have to ask: why is this not being mass produced? Why is there not an over-the-counter brand of this crap yet? This sounds like gold to me and I would trample a crowd in the most Christian way I could to get some.

Wait for it…

…but, I had seen a video on Provigil about a year ago about a guy who was taking it on a regular basis. While he functioned at astonishing levels in memory, alertness, and energy, he did not sleep. And that concerns me. He claimed to not suffer from long term effects of sleep deprivation (such as depression, paranoia, and my personal favorite, schizophrenia). I’m happy for the guy, but still, from what I can remember, he’d only been using it for about 8 months. (I couldn’t find the video for reference.) What happens when you use the stuff for a year? Three years? Five? There is a lot of potential for major problems in that scenario. Not to mention the potential for biological dependency (read: addiction), which for me, being an ex-smoker, is a big problem. I have what is called an addictive personality. What? No, that doesn’t mean if you were to become my friend you wouldn’t be able to get enough of me! (Though my wife wouldn’t blame you, she thinks I’m awesome.) What that means is that my personality has an extremely high tendency to become blazingly addicted to stuff in a exponentially short period of time. I’ve kept my distance from recreational drugs for that reason alone (and maybe some others)! And this Modafinil, sounds devilishly close to recreation, or at least non-essential.

But I can’t seem to help myself. I’m still curious.

What about you? Any takers?

Catch you later!

– M

*If you suffer from narcolepsy, I have absolutely no ill will towards you or others who suffer from it. I fully respect the seriousness of your condition. God bless you!
The Real NZT