How much progress is too much progress?

The technical progress takes more and more work off our shoulders, and in many cases that’s a good thing, but sometimes I wonder how far is too far when it comes to machines/computers doing what we used to do with our own two hands.

I recently read an article about intelligent cars, and how they’ll make driving in the future much easier and safer. They’ll be able to read street signs and traffic lights, evaluate the traffic to decide if you need to change your route, change lanes if necessary. They’ll practically drive for you and you’ll be the passenger. Even some of today’s cars are already capable of slowing down if the distance between your car and the car in front of you isn’t big enough, or warn you if you’re crossing over to another lane and some even park the car for you. Maybe it’s just me but it would bother me if my car decided when I should slow down or when to change lanes. Of course humans are prone to mistakes but machines too. And I would really hate it if I crashed into a wall because my car decided to accelerate due to a technical problem. I guess I just don’t like to lose control. Maybe I’m being too cautious and not future-oriented.

And cars aren’t the end of it. I read about a prototype of an intelligent house and it reminded me a lot of things I’d read about in dystopian books. The house does everything for you. The fridge is connected to the internet and orders food once you’re running out of certain things, it informs you about your calorie intake if you want, and suggests menus. Everything is electronic. There’s even some kind of robot that does the cleaning and, though that is very tempting since I detest cleaning, I’d be freaked out if I had a semi-intelligent machine running around my house. Am I being stupid? Have I watched “I, Robot” once too often? I don’t know.

I guess it’s important to ask ourselves if we really need a machine that takes care of every little thing. I’m not sure if that would make our lives easier. Maybe we’d be relieved of physical work, but is that a good thing? I think our bodies want a certain amount of physical work. If I don't move enough or don't really exert myself once in a while, I get restless and can't sleep, and my mind has too much energy to worry and think about strange things. And that's never ever a good thing.

What do you think?

(As you might have guessed: revision brain makes me feel philosophical, and that’s never a good thing)
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LM Preston said...

Maybe because I'm an engineer I love progress so I'm thinking its wonderful.

Barbara Etlin said...

Have you seen Demolition Man (1993), starring Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock (before she was a star)? Anyway, Sandra circa 2032has a car that plans her route, drives for her, and talks to her.
Good for a laugh, but I wouldn't want one.

I do have two electronic cats, Petster Deluxe (tm), and they are lots of fun. I should attach a dust cloth to their tails or something, so they'll be useful!

"Have a peachy day!"

Unknown said...

I'm really looking forward to the Google cars--I'll finally be able to work during those long road-trips for author events!