Sunday, 19 March 2017

Technology Failure

My phone just posted an alert for a dangerous storm in my area. I checked with Environment Canada; there are no warnings. The weather is clear and sunny, only light clouds in the sky. I think my phone is confused as to where I am right now. I can understand that. It is, after all, only a phone. As a long time user and early adopter of most technologies, I truly understand how unreliable they can be.

On the other hand, once set up properly, single use technologies and even multi-use technologies can be highly reliable. How often does your toaster break? What about your coffee maker? Now ask yourself how often you use your coffee maker to toast bread? That's what makes it so highly reliable; one use, one function, again and again and again.

I depend on a lot of technology these days. It's important to understand what I mean by that. Technology is a lot more than computers and programs. At its root, technology is the collection of techniques, skills, methods and processes used in the production of goods or services. The use of tools is at the heart of technology. Tools themselves are a technology. I use an awful lot of tools in my daily life, so many more than most people.

Never mind the simple implementation of things like a transfer board or an M-rail on my bed. The technology that helps me live right now includes lifts and slings and wheelchairs and grabby sticks. It includes multiple technologies, like in my Power Wheelchair. As I progress, there will be more technologies turning my home into a hospital room. It's well on its way already.

As ALS continues to destroy my body, I will need assistive technologies like voice recognition, something I already use with my phone. These days I "ask" Google a lot more questions than I type. The same is true with Google Maps. I will confess, however, that these areas are more susceptible to error. This lies in the way we us our phones; they are now a computer, a GPS, a communications device, an internet access portal, and so many other things. The more things there are, the more likely one of them is to go wrong.

Right now I am grateful I can still type. At least this tool driven process has been around long enough to be relatively error free. Most of my typing errors occur at the user end, not the machine end. Still, auto-correct is a bit of a terror. Speech recognition for my laptop will be the next thing, hopefully some time away, once my hands grow too weary for typing.

Technology can keep me going for a while. I suppose the real issue is whether I want to rely on technology to keep me alive, moreso than the rest of the world. I still think the answer is no, but as that line in the sand gets closer, I move further back from it. Technology; it's a blessing and a curse.

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