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Are we too dependent on technology?

ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
edited April 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
As some of you might have heard, RIM's Blackberry network went down late Tuesday. It did not come back on until Wednesday morning. Story here.

The chaos this caused was significant. As people all over North America struggled to continue their lives without relying on their beloved crackberries, the company's stocks went down 1 percent (although it somewhat recovered the next morning).

Countless businesses, especially those that have a large number of employees who travel or do field-work, faltered.

Life in the White House slowed down to a crawl.

A girl dumped her boyfriend after he stopped responding to her emails while they were having an argument.

--

This whole thing begs the question: are we too dependent on technology (edit: I mean technology that centers on communication and interconnectedness)?

And is this necessarily a bad thing?

ege02 on
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Posts

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2007
    way to generalise from networked communication tools to anything that involves not using our bare hands to eke out an existence there champ

    The Cat on
    tmsig.jpg
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    ege02 wrote: »
    This whole thing begs the question: are we too dependent on technology?

    Seeing how a stick with a rock tied to it is technically technology, I'd say yes. Without tools we wouldn't be able to do anything.

    moniker on
  • PicardathonPicardathon Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    It isn't the ability to be available 24/7 (The Blackberry) thats the problem, its the people who are willing to be connected 24/7.
    A change in the social atmosphere is necessary, not going around with a club and trying to create the second Luddite movement.
    By club, I mean the big heavy wooden thing.

    Picardathon on
  • VeegeezeeVeegeezee Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Seems like a valid question to me. We'd be in the dark ages if, for some reason, electronic communication ceased entirely. I just can't think of a realistic situation where that would happen.

    Same thing with power production, or combustion engines, or any of a hundred other critically entrenched elements of our lives.

    Veegeezee on
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    way to generalise from networked communication tools to anything that involves not using our bare hands to eke out an existence there champ

    I think what I mean when I say "technology" is rather clear.

    ege02 on
  • RandomEngyRandomEngy Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Being dependent on something is only bad when you can't guarantee it will be available for as much as you need it. For example, we're dependent on electricity. Going without it for 4 days earlier this year made me realize that things would go to hell pretty quickly if the electricity were out for 2 months. But we've built our infrastructure such that it's almost always up, and when it goes down it's back within a week at the worst. So there really is no real downside of being dependent on it.

    The question you should be asking is: do the risks associated with an outage outweigh the benefits gained by making use of the service?

    RandomEngy on
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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited April 2007
    I've never even seen a Blackberry or heard of it except on the internet.

    It's not remotely necessary to your average, vital business. It just makes things faster and easier and more expansive.

    If you mean big mega-corporate business yuppies specifically? Yeah, sure, maybe.

    Personally, I'm a country boy. "A country boy can survive." You want to stop me you have to take away my hands.

    Incenjucar on
  • VeegeezeeVeegeezee Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    I've never even seen a Blackberry or heard of it except on the internet.

    It's not remotely necessary to your average, vital business. It just makes things faster and easier and more expansive.

    If you mean big mega-corporate business yuppies specifically? Yeah, sure, maybe.

    Personally, I'm a country boy. "A country boy can survive." You want to stop me you have to take away my hands.

    Or your supply chain, unless you're a subsistence farmer or hunter.

    Veegeezee on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    ege02 wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    way to generalise from networked communication tools to anything that involves not using our bare hands to eke out an existence there champ

    I think what I mean when I say "technology" is rather clear.

    Not really. Would you extend it to computers themselves or just the interconnectedness of them and people operating them in this day and age? How about particular software? Do you mean strictly communication related aspects or can it branch out to manufacturing related? Are you basically talking about everything that has a silicon chip, more, less, what?

    moniker on
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2007
    moniker wrote: »
    ege02 wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    way to generalise from networked communication tools to anything that involves not using our bare hands to eke out an existence there champ

    I think what I mean when I say "technology" is rather clear.

    Not really. Would you extend it to computers themselves or just the interconnectedness of them and people operating them in this day and age? How about particular software? Do you mean strictly communication related aspects or can it branch out to manufacturing related? Are you basically talking about everything that has a silicon chip, more, less, what?

    As I said, the context of the OP makes it clear.

    But I'll give in just this once, because you're cool: I am talking about communication and interconnectedness.

    ege02 on
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Veegeezee wrote: »
    Or your supply chain, unless you're a subsistence farmer or hunter.

    What part of "country" boy didn't come through.

    Freshly-murdered wild bunnies are delicious.

    Incenjucar on
  • PicardathonPicardathon Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    I percieve it as more than just being connected, but rather being connected to the point where this chaos can occur when the network shuts down.
    Its rather pathetic, but like I said, it says more about necessary fixes to our society than an issue with the technology itself.
    Or the short answer: Yes, but what can we do about it?

    Picardathon on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    ege02 wrote: »
    I am talking about communication and interconnectedness.

    Then, with few exceptions (like NYSE type things, military/political, and that's about it), no we are not. It's a convenience that allows for added productivity, but that's about it. Things would slow down without them, certainly, and the inability to transfer large files which are still being worked on between people would be a bitch, but that's about it. The internet hasn't really come into its own yet to be anywhere near the critical level you're describing. We'd fall back little over a decade.

    moniker on
  • JamesJames Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    I would say that yes, we are overly dependent on technology. Not just for communication, but for everything (even sex, birth control hello!). However, it's not a bad thing. When networks go down, they get repaired and people carry on with their lives.

    James on
  • MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    RandomEngy wrote: »
    Being dependent on something is only bad when you can't guarantee it will be available for as much as you need it.

    Ege, are you trying to say that we need better backup systems installed in case our telecommunications momentarily fail, or is this just more 'damn kids get off my lawn?'

    MrMister on
  • ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    As I sit here I have my mobile in front of me having sent at least 10 messages and recieved at least the same number back in the the last hour.

    Plus at least 20 minutes of calls.

    And I have Adium signed in to MSN, GTalk and AIM

    I have Mail open and autochecking every 5 minutes.

    And in a seperate FF tab I'm replying to a PM.



    And this is supposedly my downtime at two o' clock in the morning.
    Yeah, we are overly dependent on communications technology.

    ben0207 on
  • MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    The tele-phone allows visitors who do not even stop for tea in the parlor before insisting on a discussion of substance!

    MrMister on
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2007
    MrMister wrote: »
    RandomEngy wrote: »
    Being dependent on something is only bad when you can't guarantee it will be available for as much as you need it.

    Ege, are you trying to say that we need better backup systems installed in case our telecommunications momentarily fail, or is this just more 'damn kids get off my lawn?'

    damn kids wha?

    backup systems would be nice.

    ege02 on
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2007
    But, Mr^2, my diatribe is neither about back-up systems nor about kids in my lawn.

    Like, I think about how irritated I get when my Internet goes down, and how not being able to do seemingly taken-for-granted things like checking my email can have such an adverse effect on my life.

    ege02 on
  • Grid SystemGrid System Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Technological dependence is only bad when it starts to interfere with or prevent us doing those things we can do without it. It it impossible for two human beings to communicate directly or semi-directly over great distances without technology. Such an ability is positive however, and the fact that technology enables us to communicate more or less instantanously with people very far away means that in this case, technology is very useful indeed. It is definitely inconvenient when the technology fails to one degree or another, but that is not at all good motivation to use it less.

    If people stopped actually speaking to one another face to face, or used Blackberry text messages even when they're in the same room or sitting next to one another - assuming that they aren't using them to circumvent a prohibition on speaking as in a lecture - then it would be the case that people are too dependent on technology.

    Grid System on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited April 2007
    ege02 wrote: »
    Life in the White House slowed down to a crawl.

    This isn't an example of becoming too reliant on technology, this is an example of standards creep. I'd be willing to bet that life in the White House didn't slow down to a "crawl," it slowed down to pre-Blackberry speed, which only seems slow now but was perfectly normal 5 or 10 years ago..

    See, that's the thing. If email goes down, I can pick up a damn phone. If the phones go down, I can send a letter. At worst, things regress to the way they were before the advent of the technology in question. When tech goes down, people don't sit around with their thumbs up their asses going, "Duh, what do I do now?" (Well, some people do, but they're just using it as an excuse to take a coffee break, which shouldn't be confused with dependency.)

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

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  • GlyphGlyph Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Until our brains can be wiped out or our bodies paralyzed by an electromagnetic pulse, I don't think we can really become "too" dependent on technology.

    Glyph on
  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    ege02 wrote: »
    Life in the White House slowed down to a crawl.

    This isn't an example of becoming too reliant on technology, this is an example of standards creep. I'd be willing to bet that life in the White House didn't slow down to a "crawl," it slowed down to pre-Blackberry speed, which only seems slow now but was perfectly normal 5 or 10 years ago..

    See, that's the thing. If email goes down, I can pick up a damn phone. If the phones go down, I can send a letter. At worst, things regress to the way they were before the advent of the technology in question. When tech goes down, people don't sit around with their thumbs up their asses going, "Duh, what do I do now?" (Well, some people do, but they're just using it as an excuse to take a coffee break, which shouldn't be confused with dependency.)

    Exactly. Look, I could get in contact with my supervisor via phone, or even snail-mail, but it'd be a damn sight harder to get my thesis up and running that way. Email makes it easier to get things done given how much he travels, and if i got tetchy when the email system went down, it wouldn't be a sign that I'm some kind of slave to circuitry.

    You seem to have this nagging fear that if we're not all musclebound survivalists then the human race is doooooomed in the event of apparently inevitable catastrophe ege, and I just don't get it.

    The Cat on
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  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2007
    ege02 wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    way to generalise from networked communication tools to anything that involves not using our bare hands to eke out an existence there champ

    I think what I mean when I say "technology" is rather clear.

    It really wasn't, you were making lazy generalisations.

    The Cat on
    tmsig.jpg
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    You seem to have this nagging fear that if we're not all musclebound survivalists then the human race is doooooomed in the event of apparently inevitable catastrophe ege, and I just don't get it.

    Nah, it's just that I find it interesting and intellectually-challenging to detach every now and then and look at social, historical, and global trends from an ultra-critical perspective.

    ege02 on
  • VeegeezeeVeegeezee Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Veegeezee wrote: »
    Or your supply chain, unless you're a subsistence farmer or hunter.

    What part of "country" boy didn't come through.

    Freshly-murdered wild bunnies are delicious.

    Mmm, bunnies.

    I went Dall sheep hunting way up north last fall, and for whatever reason this particular trip struck me as sort of tragic. I suddenly realized how much crap we were bringing along to ensure that we wouldn't die; just having a satphone with us made me feel sort of guilty, for some reason.

    Veegeezee on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    ege02 wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    You seem to have this nagging fear that if we're not all musclebound survivalists then the human race is doooooomed in the event of apparently inevitable catastrophe ege, and I just don't get it.

    Nah, it's just that I find it interesting and intellectually-challenging to detach every now and then and look at social, historical, and global trends from an ultra-critical perspective.

    Do you consider the wild west to have been too reliant upon the Pony Express and iron horse?

    moniker on
  • DaemonionDaemonion Mountain Man USARegistered User regular
    edited April 2007
    The purpose of most technology is to depend upon it permanently, or until it is replaced, to "better" our lives.

    Daemonion on
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2007
    moniker wrote: »
    ege02 wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    You seem to have this nagging fear that if we're not all musclebound survivalists then the human race is doooooomed in the event of apparently inevitable catastrophe ege, and I just don't get it.

    Nah, it's just that I find it interesting and intellectually-challenging to detach every now and then and look at social, historical, and global trends from an ultra-critical perspective.

    Do you consider the wild west to have been too reliant upon the Pony Express and iron horse?

    I don't know enough about the Wild West to comment.

    ege02 on
  • GlyphGlyph Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    The pinnacle of technological development is when all elements of the physical reality can be precisely manipulated at the speed of thought. You'd think that would be the pinnacle of human development as well, but I'm not so certain.

    Glyph on
  • ÆthelredÆthelred Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    You could make a much better argument for technology intruding too much upon our lives - the mobile phone has harassed the business worker more than any invention in history.

    Æthelred on
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  • SenjutsuSenjutsu thot enthusiast Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    It seems to me that the entire premise of this thread is inspired by and concerned with the legitimate dangers inherent in relying on a single centralized point of failure, but talks about such dangers in horribly confused language as though they are somehow inherent traits of the nebulous concept of "technology"

    Senjutsu on
  • CrimsonKingCrimsonKing Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    ege02 wrote: »
    Life in the White House slowed down to a crawl.

    This isn't an example of becoming too reliant on technology, this is an example of standards creep. I'd be willing to bet that life in the White House didn't slow down to a "crawl," it slowed down to pre-Blackberry speed, which only seems slow now but was perfectly normal 5 or 10 years ago..

    See, that's the thing. If email goes down, I can pick up a damn phone. If the phones go down, I can send a letter. At worst, things regress to the way they were before the advent of the technology in question. When tech goes down, people don't sit around with their thumbs up their asses going, "Duh, what do I do now?" (Well, some people do, but they're just using it as an excuse to take a coffee break, which shouldn't be confused with dependency.)

    Exactly. Look, I could get in contact with my supervisor via phone, or even snail-mail, but it'd be a damn sight harder to get my thesis up and running that way. Email makes it easier to get things done given how much he travels, and if i got tetchy when the email system went down, it wouldn't be a sign that I'm some kind of slave to circuitry.

    You seem to have this nagging fear that if we're not all musclebound survivalists then the human race is doooooomed in the event of apparently inevitable catastrophe ege, and I just don't get it.

    You say that like being a muscle-bound survivalist is a bad thing.

    CrimsonKing on
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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    It seems to me that the entire premise of this thread is inspired by and concerned with the legitimate dangers inherent in relying on a single centralized point of failure, but talks about such dangers in horribly confused language as though they are somehow inherent traits of the nebulous concept of "technology"
    Win.

    The point here is that the blackberry network is not redundantly fault tolerant like the internet is. While it's true the internet is a lot less fault-tolerant then it is given credence for (being a scalefree network), the thing still survives major outages in the big backbones.

    electricitylikesme on
  • Ain't No SunshineAin't No Sunshine Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    It seems to me that the entire premise of this thread is inspired by and concerned with the legitimate dangers inherent in relying on a single centralized point of failure, but talks about such dangers in horribly confused language as though they are somehow inherent traits of the nebulous concept of "technology"

    Technology helps us live longer, to the tune of two to four times the amount normally expected. There are resources shortages in this arena, but no single centralized point of failure.

    Regarding backups, they're absolutely critical, and in matters of absolute importance there are always safeguards at the local level. The electronic medical records servers I toured a few months ago (unfortunately, not in use by my own hospital) operated on their own power and in duplicate - two buildings, each with one generator, housing two copies of the same information.

    For critical communications, this should be something of a standard, if it isn't already - I want my tools to be at least as reliable as I am. There's a point of redundancy where that's definitely the case.

    Ain't No Sunshine on
  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2007
    You say that like being a muscle-bound survivalist is a bad thing.

    No, I really don't. I think its pretty silly to think that spending all our time learning how email and cars work will leave us incapable of learning to shoe a horse and do home dentistry in the event that everything goes bung. Most of us won't react like Paris Hilton on a farm for the first time.

    The Cat on
    tmsig.jpg
  • GlyphGlyph Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    It seems to me that the entire premise of this thread is inspired by and concerned with the legitimate dangers inherent in relying on a single centralized point of failure, but talks about such dangers in horribly confused language as though they are somehow inherent traits of the nebulous concept of "technology"

    Similar to anxieties expressed about genetic research, which are actually worse because they're based on speculative doomsday scenarios where there hasn't even been a substantial point of failure.

    Glyph on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Glyph wrote: »
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    It seems to me that the entire premise of this thread is inspired by and concerned with the legitimate dangers inherent in relying on a single centralized point of failure, but talks about such dangers in horribly confused language as though they are somehow inherent traits of the nebulous concept of "technology"

    Similar to anxieties expressed about genetic research, which are actually worse because they're based on speculative doomsday scenarios where there hasn't even been a substantial point of failure.

    Speculative? It's god damn science fantasy 99% of the time.

    electricitylikesme on
  • GlyphGlyph Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Glyph wrote: »
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    It seems to me that the entire premise of this thread is inspired by and concerned with the legitimate dangers inherent in relying on a single centralized point of failure, but talks about such dangers in horribly confused language as though they are somehow inherent traits of the nebulous concept of "technology"

    Similar to anxieties expressed about genetic research, which are actually worse because they're based on speculative doomsday scenarios where there hasn't even been a substantial point of failure.

    Speculative? It's god damn science fantasy 99% of the time.

    "Bioconservatives" have actually cited films like Gattaca as potential reasons to ban stem cell research and other forms of genetic manipulation. Which seems a bit like citing Le Voyage dans la Lune as a reason not to land on the Moon.

    Glyph on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Glyph wrote: »
    Glyph wrote: »
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    It seems to me that the entire premise of this thread is inspired by and concerned with the legitimate dangers inherent in relying on a single centralized point of failure, but talks about such dangers in horribly confused language as though they are somehow inherent traits of the nebulous concept of "technology"

    Similar to anxieties expressed about genetic research, which are actually worse because they're based on speculative doomsday scenarios where there hasn't even been a substantial point of failure.

    Speculative? It's god damn science fantasy 99% of the time.

    "Bioconservatives" have actually cited films like Gattaca as potential reasons to ban stem cell research and other forms of genetic manipulation. Which seems a bit like citing Le Voyage dans la Lune as a reason not to land on the Moon.
    Remember guys, rather then analyzing the moral quandries posed by new technology and devising strategies for handling them we should just ban research outright coz 'dem questions is hard.

    electricitylikesme on
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