By Marla Boone
Many things and many people are smarter than I am. The number of people in that category are too numerous to enumerate here. Come to think of it, the number of things make up a fairly extensive list, too. So I’m going to focus (not my best thing) on the things that are way way smarter than I am.
Number One: My phone. My phone is very smart. It knows where I am. So, no doubt, does Big Brother, but my phone isn’t sneaky about it. I can, of course, turn off the location feature. This disables about one third of my apps, not that that is necessarily a bad thing. And I’m fairly certain that Big Brother can track me through the chip in my head that was implanted at birth. (Dear Conspiracy Lovers…that was a joke. We all know the chip is in our arms.)
In any event, it’s still amazing what this little block of plastic and silicon can accomplish. It makes shopping easier. Snap photo. Send photo. Send text. “Is THIS the kind of hot sauce you want?” It can make cooking easier. Snap photo. Send photo. Send text. “THIS is the kind of hot sauce I want.” Just to prove irony didn’t die the day Le Duc Tho won the Nobel Peace Prize, the phone has made it possible to cease talking to each other. The huge black Bakelite monster that sat in every hall way in America has been replaced by something with no cord, no dial, and no dial tone. It’s the anti-phone.
Something else smarter or at least wilier than I is my computer. Yes, I still have a computer because I cannot figure out how to word process on an iPad. I even have the word processing app and the separate key board. What I don’t have is the skill set to get the document therein created off the iPad and into the world. But I digress.
My laptop is not, shall we say, of the latest generation. Neither am I but that is not the issue. The wily part comes in because there is something going on that allows my computer to sense when I am in a hurry. When it feels me rushing about its immediate response is to slow down. W-a-a-a-a-y-y-y-y down. It takes 20 twenty minutes to agree to wake up, a time lapse I never achieved on my sleepiest days. The tech guys say I have “a lot of things running in the background.” This declaration imparts information but not knowledge. All I know is that if I start the computer every day it wakes up faster. Low tech but effective until it comes up with another way to get my goat.
For all its faults, at least my passive aggressive computer doesn’t scold, which brings us to the third thing ahead in the smart department. My car. My car scolds. Driving home from Illinois a few weeks ago, I was once again behind a car whose driver is unfamiliar with the concept of left lane for faster traffic and for passing. More and more we see people firmly entrenched in the far left lane lest they have to endure the horrors of merging traffic. For these people, we need a James Bond-esque product to emerge from the front of our cars to give a gentle (or not) nudge to those whose failure to grasp basic driving skills has made them, like my computer, passive aggressive, the paradox being there is no passing in passive. Tooling along behind them, I notice my car’s dash lights up with an icon, of all things, of a coffee cup and a warning, “Low Driver Attention.” Really. First of all, how does my car make this determination? Is it measuring my eye movement? Is it tracking how many times I look down at the speedometer to see I’m going 62 miles per hour in the left lane? Does it keep count of how many swear words are muttered? What?
If our cars are going to pass judgment on us, and apparently they are, then let’s have some useful judgments. The car obviously knows how fast it is going. With its multiple cameras, it also knows which lane it’s in. Unless you turn this feature off, it will even tell you when you’re no longer in the lane. A car that can do all that can surely be trained to safely vacate the left lane when the driver is woefully oblivious. Maybe add an icon of a rude person with a warning of “Low Driver Courtesy.”
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today.