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Breathing, Eating and Taking Pictures

April 26, 2012

One of my pet topics is Technology Culture Shock.  As technology doubles faster and faster, our technological maturity—how we use technology—seriously lags.

For example, back in the 40s when the atom bomb was invented, we dropped two onJapan.  Partially because that ended the war and partially because no one else had one, the world had time to consider the horror and power of atom bombs.  We’ve since detonated over 2,000 a-bombs since then, but none against other breathing humans.  One could argue our maturity (cough-cough) kept pace with our a-bomb technology. 

Twenty-five years after Fat Man dropped its payload, I was given my first Instamatic Camera which used a film cassette holding 12 to 24 frames (my dad’s nicer camera held 36 on a roll).  Film was too expensive to just point and shoot like the commercials suggested.  You had to carefully husband your film to capture special moments. 

Thirty-some years later, my daughter got her first camera.  When I saw her shooting everything that moved, didn’t move, thought about moving or would never move again, I told her to not to snap willy-nilly.  “Why?” she asked.  I had no answer.  Her camera was digital and could store thousands of pictures which she could erase or save to her computer.  Other than needing to sort through those photos, why not shoot a ton? 

Then some idiot decided to put cameras in our phones.  Now no one is without the ability to record every second of life.  Shooting pictures has become like breathing and eating.  For today’s generation, it doesn’t even require thought (it takes me awhile to figure out how to activate my phone app and who knows if I’m recording single shots or video?  Today’s kids can thumb their camera active while driving and talking on the phone). 

But the morality of using cameras?  How could they possible catch up with the rapid availability of technology? Parents haven’t had time to assimilate and advise, so no wonder kids are sending x-rated photos to each other or posting nightmares on Facebook.  Can we really get mad at our young soldiers for snapping photos at Abu Garab or of bomber remains?  Had anyone told them not to do so?  It seems obvious to we film-era photogs, but have we coached the younger set on camera dos and donts?

Then there’s personal music devices.  It would never have occurred to me to speak to someone with headphones or Walkman ear-muffs on, but today kids don’t even take out their ear-buds when addressed.

So far, we’ve been lucky.  I think about Tesla’s ray-gun every now and then.  Imagine a TASER without leads, just a gun that could incapacitate or kill depending on settings.  Hopefully the department of treasury will keep that device under wraps.  The tech that would flow from that would change everything… if you don’t mind regular electro-shock therapy.

The cynic in me remembers the Manhattan Project scientists’ certainty that the first a-bomb test would either make a really big explosion or completely incinerate the Earth in a volatile chain reaction (and they did it anyway. Nice, huh?).  The fire Revelation speaks of in the end days may be atomic conflagration, but I suspect it will instead be an unzipping of the material planet caused by experiments I happen to have first-hand knowledge of being conducted 15 years ago (benign stuff, really.  It was the ability to unzip atoms along a seam, making a door where there was none before, and the rezipping the atoms.  They could do the first, but weren’t sure about their theories for rezipping, in that the energy result may be disastrous…  now they’re trying to figure out to harness that by-product energy for use.  Difficult equations when the output may be nothing or may be catastrophic.  The last I heard were two of the black-box scientists trying to figure out where it would be safe to try it, in the ocean or in a vast desert…)

Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, digital cameras and so much more.  How are we expected to keep up?  How is Congress supposed to look ahead to pass laws that protect us from things that don’t exist yet but will be dangerous when they do?

Prayer.  Lots and lots of prayer.

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