Posted On: Saturday - March 26th 2022 9:18PM MST
In Topics:   Music  Curmudgeonry  Artificial Stupidity  The Future
The previous post was a very small complaint, I suppose. It's a "1st World problem", in the midst of what I see are 3rd World problems coming as we transition* that way.
Yeah, I can text these people back with "STOP" or whatever they ask. It's just that there's more and more of this "TECH" stupidity than I don't want to have any part in. We are more and more forced to, though. We've got all kinds of software that we must deal with, much of it being "upgraded" frequently to force us to learn new things, such as how to use the same tools we used to be able to operate the new ways, the old ways having been "deprecated".
A major problem I have with the modern software-run world of the 21st Century is that it's getting pretty hard to keep up with how things work anymore. Yeah, it's not 1981 anymore. Most things are built too cheaply to make them worth fixing, so why understand them? The items that used to be called "durable goods" by economists, when they were, are now so sophisticated and full of electronics and sensors that it's pretty hard to really know what goes on inside.
Even for modern cars, I suppose (other than all the easily breakable plastic) more durable, milage-wise, than the old ones, have perhaps too many systems for a mechanic to know. How many mechanics can do real old-fashioned analog-thinking troubleshooting on new cars anymore? There are the on-board diagnostics, which can tell you all sorts of details. That's extremely helpful, of course. The fixes are very often the removal and replacement of electronic boxes, and the troubleshooting involves which to try first, knowing that some items can and some can't be returned. So we just use machines of all sorts that hopefully work but we don't understand why they do or don't so much anymore.
Along with this is the effect of all the software changing life such that we must satisfy the needs of the machines, rather than they just plain working when we need them. All the many things we have with batteries must be kept charged up, sometimes a whole rigamarole when you're low on chargers. Then "upgrade will happen tonight" is one of these things that makes me really hate this 21st century world of software. I just want to keep using the thing and not have to figure it out again, but if I keep putting it off, it WILL stop working for me. (And you thought union labor was hard to deal with.) Even the more mechanical devices are so "smart" that one must do things their way and spend extra time and effort get them back on track if they go off plan. (See our old post Coffee Machines and Jet Airplanes - machines taking control.)
Here's another example. Peak Stupidity has gone on and on about the electronics calculations programmed into the consoles of exercise machines (look through the Artificial Stupidity***. Well, this is not about the calculations but definitely about the artificial stupidity.
I get on one of the hotel treadmills, run like hell, and then check my pulse.**** I can't do both at the same time, as it's much easier exercise (for the same slope/speed combination) to hold onto the machine. They only go up to 15% slope, so I don't hold on.
When I've had enough, I jump off, with my feet onto the side rails, put my hands on the sensors, and wait. It takes 10 to 20 seconds, but I can see almost what my heart rate got up to, and then I can watch my heart rate go down properly, as it should (or damn well BETTER!). Yeah, but the machine now "thinks": "Oh, you're not on the machine." and tells me "no steps detected, mash resume" or it will quit in 30 seconds. I hit the resume, which takes one hand, hence the pulse reading is gone for 10 seconds. On the good ones with the paddle switches, at least I can use my chin! Well, I did a little playing around with this afterwards a couple of times. I tried banging one foot on the belt and then dragging a foot on it. I found that it's not the former, impact sensing, but the latter, torque sensing as in, it's likely surges in torque on the motor, hence current surges, that it uses to know when the user is actually running/walking.
OK, fine, so I've got to do that foot dragging thing so I can keep both hands on the sensors and watch my heart rate. Yes, this feature is made to save power/wear if a user forgets to turn the treadmill off. I! GET! THAT! If it were mine, hopefully I could find the way turn turn off this "great feature". That's hopefully, but not for sure. It's not at my house, and I haven't asked a salesman though, so I don't know . Therefore, I must stand there like an idiot making sure this "SMART" treadmill keeps going when I WANT it to. I have to work FOR the machine, rather than it working for me.
Yeah, I know, you've always had to change the oil in the car, sharpen your chain saw blade, drain water from the air compressor, take the lint of the dryer hose, etc, but we could do that on our own schedules. I don't like how the modern machines are bossing me around.
So, we can't keep up with how our devices work anymore, and they take charge of more and more of our lives. The younger generations seem to be just fine with that, as it's all they know. I am not just fine with that, as I remember. We are living in a world full of electronics and electromechanical devices that take care of important things in our lives and depending on them, but not knowing what they're all about. I don't like the feeling of not being in control of the things of this world, at least mine.
This is the 21st century, but I'm not a 21st Century Man. That is the name of a great Electric Light Orchestra song from 20 years before this century started. It's from my favorite concept album ever, ELO's Time, featured here on Peak Stupidity years ago. The story is about a man who travels forward in time well into the 21st Century (like now, but it was better), and missed the world he left in 1981. Funny thing is, the hit song from the album, Hold on Tight is about the only one that is not part of the story.
We didn't have a time machine, but we still got here.
Fly across the city.
Rise above the land.
You can do 'most anything.
Now you're a 21st century man.
Though you ride on the wheels of tomorrow,
you still wander the fields of your sorrow.
What will it bring?
Jeff Lynne – Lead and backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, piano, vocoder, synthesizers.
Bev Bevan – Drums, percussion.
Richard Tandy – Acoustic and electric pianos, synthesizers, vocoder, guitars.
Kelly Groucutt – Bass guitar, backing vocals.
At least I was OK with the 20th century, my portion of it anyway. These guys, The Kinks didn't like that one either, with some pretty legitimate complaints.
This is the age of machinery,
A mechanical nightmare.
The wonderful world of technology,
napalm, hydrogen bombs, biological warfare.
This is the twentieth century,
But too much aggravation.
It's the age of insanity.
What has become of the green pleasant fields of Jerusalem?
Ain't got no ambition, I'm just disillusioned.
I'm a twentieth century man, but I don't want to be here.
20th Century Man is from The Kink's 10th studio album, Muswell Hillbillies, released just over 50 years ago. This live version is from their 1980 One for the Road album, and this song was recorded at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ on March 3rd of 1979.
Hey, these guys were of a real Libertarian bent, especially surprising, their being Brits.** From the studio version:
I was born in a welfare state
Ruled by bureaucracy,
controlled by civil servants
and people dressed in grey.
Got no privacy, got no liberty,
'cause the twentieth century people
took it all away from me.
The Kinks, on the road, at least:
Ray Davies – guitar, harmonica, keyboards, vocals
Dave Davies – lead guitar, backing vocals
Ian Gibbons – keyboards, backing vocals
Mick Avory – drums
Jim Rodford – bass, backing vocals
Well, good night, Peakers. Thanks yet again for reading and commenting.
PS: As per commenting with Alarmist, let me reiterate. that, yes, one can tinker with the modern devices and understand some of it all. However, that's not the case for the large majority of the people. They don't care to understand, much less fix anything,
So, I'm living in a world where most people not only don't understand the machines that are taking more and more control of our lives, but have an attitude that says "why should I care? They just run things in the world. Nothing I can do about it. Go with the flow."
* Ewww! No, not that type of transition.
** ELO was a British band too. There were so many.
*** Term coined by John Derbyshire.
**** Believe me, I've tried the chest ones, but never found a reliable one yet.
[UPDATED. 04/27:] Added the PS and added the example of the treadmill machine.