I’m actually pretty cynical about technology, despite my utter dependence on it. Yes, I’m an Eagle Scout, but a few years ago when an ice storm hit Lexington and we lost power for a couple days, I was a raving, unshaven, unwashed, unbearable lunatic until it was restored. Nevertheless, I often lament the fact that I am so dependent on technology, and I also worry that we actually don’t know the negative effects of the technology we use all the time.
All that having been said, I am excited about a few new advancements in technology that everyone around me seems to be repulsed by. Here are a few.
Google Self-Driving Car
At the time of this post, this YouTube video of a blind man named Steve Mahan being carted around town by a self-driving car has over a million views, and it will certainly generate more. I have been waiting for this invention ever since I got my driver’s license. A lot of people I’ve talked to say that this is a bad idea because they wouldn’t ever feel safe. Some of these people are also afraid of flying in planes. Why? Because they feel safer when they are in control. Well, news flash people: that’s the problem.
Flying is far, far safer than driving because you are not in control. In general, people are not safe, are not paying attention, and are not careful. They put on makeup, eat, look at their GPS, read, and have conversations when they’re driving, and even if you, personally, are safe, most of the other people on the road are not. Everyone that is afraid of flying should be far, far more afraid every time they buckle themselves into an automobile. If you want numbers, consider the fact that your chances of dying when you board a plane are 1 in 11 million, and your chances of dying in an automobile are 1 in 5000.
The point is, I think well-programmed computers would probably be safer than human drivers. I’m really looking forward to the day when I can eat, read, or sleep in a car without ever worrying about getting lost or stupid (or drunk) drivers on the road.
But let’s really think about this. When I think about pets, all I can think of are all the disgusting things that they do that pet lovers think are adorable or funny. Dogs and cats can do things in our homes that, if a person did in our homes, would warrant a call to the police. Animals are revolting.
Furthermore, humans raise living animals in stressful, crowded pens, kill them, strip the flesh off of them and then eat them. That’s the pleasant way of putting it. The fact of the matter is, everything about raising animals, farming them, and butchering them is disgusting. Most Americans don’t even want to think about meat coming from animals and would lose their lunch if they had to view any part of the process. I know how gross and disturbing it is, but I simply don’t have the desire to eliminate meat from my diet, so I just try to put it all out of my mind. I’m sure you guys do too.
Third, a ton of what we eat is produced in “laboratories” anyway. Certainly the artificial dyes and sweeteners, but think of what else is processed in factories and no longer resembles what it came from in the slightest. Gelatin, “pink slime,” mechanically separated meats, etc. I’m grossing myself out just thinking about it.
Frankly, I’m not exactly sure how so-called “lab-grown meat” is supposed to be more disgusting than what we’re already eating, plus it would help us reduce the horrible conditions for the living animals we farm for food. It would take some getting used to, but after we all get over our initial hangups we’ll see that this is actually much better.
Despite the fact that I’m generally conservative on the economy, everything about the diamond industry makes me fume with anger. It represents everything filthy, immoral, and wrong with capitalism and marketing. If you think that diamonds are rare or somehow intrinsically linked to romance, you’ve simply been duped along with everyone else by the De Beers company. Those ideas are simply inventions of their marketing department, and the supposed rarity of diamonds is the result of the complete dominating monopoly De Beers has on every step of the diamond-making process.
That monopoly has been broken up in the last decade or so, but the results of its marketing campaign still ripple through American culture. Who in this country doesn’t feel social pressure to purchase a diamond to propose to a future spouse? And yet, for years the diamond industry helped fund African warlords, as seen in the movie Blood Diamond. Despite the fact that De Beers promises its diamonds are “conflict free,” many diamonds are still produced in deplorable work environments. A ridiculously low percentage of the price you pay for diamonds goes to the people who dig them out of the dirt.
I’m not so naive to think that we can easily get rid of our insatiable appetites for bling in America. But let’s face it – synthetic diamonds look exactly the same as actual diamonds. Heck, I couldn’t tell the difference between a diamond and a piece of glass shaped like a diamond. It wouldn’t be as hard as a diamond, but it’s not like we’re all using our earrings to cut industrial sheet metal. Just get a fake!