I love March in Melbourne, when the weather is beautiful and the Grand Prix comes to town. The high octane race is a spectacle, probably best described as a circus, as the rich and famous come out to play in the Paddock Club, and corporate-types 'entertain' across a range of marquees. There's still plenty for everyone and I love seeing the Formula 1 cars tearing around the track and the RAAF displays overhead.
As with the racing, I marvel at the technology on display. The F/A 18 Super Hornets scream overhead demonstrating their high manoeuvrability, flying horizontally at first, slowing vertically, then launching up words like a missile before levelling off once more. Then there's the Formula 1 racers; faster than ever before, yet their speed and power is delivered by a 1.6 litre, V6 engine, smaller than many cars on the roads, and hitting speeds of over 300km/h.
Are we benefitting from such advances or are we sucking the humanity out of our existence? As I sit here writing this blog with an Apple pencil on an iPad Pro, there is no doubt technology has benefits. The internet and fast communications media allow me to easily reach an audience authors could only dream of when literary works needed to be professionally published. Yet, I secretly long for the days of putting real pens to real paper, to send a letter that would surprise someone in the mail, and perhaps be surprised myself upon receiving something in return.
There is no doubt technology creates efficiencies by improving speed and reducing mundane tasks once performed by humans. Technology can improve our safety in many areas. In today's conflicts, soldiers can be well away from harm with the introduction of drones to fight in the battlefields of war. Drones also help to assess damage after catastrophic events too dangerous for humans to enter. The medical world has seen phenomenal advances in technology to prolong life.
Aside from safety, technology opens up opportunities. In my own world of training and facilitation, technology and digital media are opening up possibilities that see greater accessibility to programs, and reduced face to face time in the busyness of corporate life.
But are we going too far? There are two areas that I see technology adversely impacting. The first is human connectivity. When I wrote letters, it was done with careful consideration, with feeling that didn't require emojis, in neat, personal handwriting. And if I needed a more rapid response, I'd make a call or even go and visit. Today, I believe we are losing the art of communication, the art of conversation, as we hide behind emails, text messages, Tweets and Facebook posts. I notice handwriting, spelling and grammar has deteriorated.
On trains and trams, we are glued to screens. Walking the streets, people dodge each other with heads buried in phones, prompting a ridiculous trial of traffic technology in Melbourne - pedestrian lights installed in the footpath.
The second area is the removal of human control. Driverless cars are expected to be on our roads within 5 years. I personally love driving; the feeling of freedom and being in control of a machine, guiding it along roads. Consequently, I don't see the need for driverless cars. Unless we advocate only driverless cars, I envisage driving skills will be reduced as people become used to the driverless option under certain circumstances (traffic, rain etc). The lack of ability to drive potentially makes these drivers less safe when automation is either unavailable or not used.
You see, humans are emotional beings. We choose to do things based on how we want to feel. Technology can take emotion out of life. Many people love the feeling of holding a real book and turning the pages, holding a beautiful pen and writing with ink on thick paper. Taking the human connection and control away with technology makes us nothing more than observers or passers-by in a life that has so much more meaning, and so much more to offer.
Therefore, I feel the need not for speed; I feel the need, the need to breathe. Now, I'm not suggesting we should becomes Luddites, rather that we embrace technology where it enhances our lives, without it sucking the life out of humanity. We should remember to be involved in what makes us human. Here are some simple things you could do daily:
This perhaps sums up my view perfectly:
"Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced."
Give it some thought and let me know what you think.
And achieve your goals, fulfill your potential, live your dreams.