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Rise of the Planet of Devices

Rise of the Planet of Devices

By Janhavi Vedpathak

Edited by Nandita Singh, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist

‘LG could launch appliances that chat!’ This Times Of India headline instantly grabbed my attention. Had we ever imagined we would be able to talk to our daily used appliances? Well, it’s 2014 and South Korea is already instructing its washing machine to start washing clothes, its fridge to change temperatures and its oven to clean itself.  The successful LG HomeChat system permits smartphone users (which accounts for about 65% of worldwide mobile users) to ask their refrigerators-  “What are you doing?”

Of the nearly two billion admissions that the dominant American film industry, Hollywood, gained revenue through in 2013, the movie ‘Her’ by Spike Jonze formed a tiny component. The plot revolves around a heart-broken, lonely introvert who happens to find his soul mate in the artificially intelligent operating system of his computer. Yes, a man fell in love with an OS! He is later shocked to find out she is in love with 641 other humans too. Although this is fiction, it is not impossible to believe it could happen with the rate at which machines are taking over.

There are numerous people who use their blogs to vent about mundane activities in life. Are people in this world too busy for us that we turn to computers to provide solutions? Siri, for example, has answers to all our questions, and solutions to all our problems. We are gradually drifting away from people and closer to our technology. As clichéd as it sounds, the most precious thing you can give someone is your presence.

Everybody is eager to find out about the new iPhone 6. “Does it have a better camera?” “Is it true that it bends in pockets?” They have kept themselves actively updated, and are ready to camp out for days just to get a first glimpse of the new model. Who would have thought, 50 years ago, that a 5-inch device would get the world so hyped up? Now, a watch, not only tells time and stores chewing gum, but also takes pictures, pays bills and makes calls. Technology overload is running our lives!

While most drivers today enjoy the thrill of shifting gears, Google, known to be the best company in the world to work for, offers its employees self-driving cars. They are apparently safer than human-controlled cars and can move through a busy street with extreme ease. This did exist in metros and trams, but rarely in cars. Next thing we know, we will be flying across oceans by robot driven hovercrafts.

“The great thing about modern life is that you can do so much and the curse of modern life is that you can do so much,” said Edward Hallowell, MD, author of CrazyBusy: Overbooked, Overstretched, and About to Snap! The world is more tangled up in wires than ever.

Leah Pearlman, a comic book writer, made a pertinent and insightful observation relating to the same. According to her, always end your day along with that of your cell phone. In other words, if your phone needs multiple charging sessions during the day, you are draining the life out of it and yourself. Thus, going to sleep with at least a little life left in your device would imply you have lived the day mindfully.

What can the future of technology possibly hold for us? All I can imagine is having spaceships for houses, connected by roads high above the ground, or I may just be picturing the life of The Jetsons in Orbit City, a popular cartoon. Then again, technology overload could force people into reverting to a simpler time of gigantic handsets, marking a never-ending cycle. Whatever it is, it sure is going to be overwhelming!

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