Smartphones, Technology and Progress

With so much technology being developed, I sometimes wonder about the intersection of technology and progress. Are we really achieving progress through technological innovation? Are these examples of progress?

  • I observe people walking about with their heads down focused on texting or running apps on smartphones. I have witnessed people colliding with stationary and moving objects as well as near accidents with people walking into the path of moving vehicles.
  • A group of young people are sitting in a cafe or other venue texting with each other on smartphones. Is it not better for them to socialize in the physical world when they have the chance?
  • Smartphone usage while driving a car, either talking or texting.
  • Crackberry users of smartphones from RIM.

What about the notion that technology is supposed to return more leisure time to people? By now, that is pretty much myth. I do not know of many professions where people are actually working fewer hours due to the availability of technology.

Here it is January 3rd, 2011, fresh at the beginning of a new year. iPhone owners returning to work on this day do not have iPhone alarm function working for them.

  • iPhone alarm malfunctions worldwide. $10 no-name alarm clock available worldwide rises in stock price. The former is true. The latter is hogwash sarcasm. Recommendation: Buy a $10 backup alarm clock!
  • The funny part is that they cannot seem to fix it after 3 days running! And now there is talk of the need to rewrite iOS - re-inventing the wheel time!
  • Embarrassment, yes. But I doubt this will affect Apple sales, stock price or reputation. After all, it is not as though the iPhone cannot make phone calls! It just dumbed down for a few days.
  • Apple stock hit an all-time high of $330.26 on January 3rd, 2011.

The use of smartphones is increasingly becoming a problem in public situations:

  • Smartphone usage in orchestra halls. I think it is annoying enough for audience members to fumble through the program booklet or to unwrap plastic wrappers on candy during quiet passages in a classical music performance. Imagine a smartphone ringing and the audacity of the audience member to partake in a conversation right there and then in the middle of the performance.
  • Use of a smartphone as a flashlight to find your seat in a movie theatre. Is the customer always right? Ask the fellow movie-goers.
  • Texting during a movie in a movie theatre. Most people would find the screen display light annoying and distracting.
  • Just as it has been an issue with people in the workplace using the computer to browse websites out of personal interest, the problem is extended to the use of smartphones for personal reasons during work-hours.

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Bill Gates told his university teachers he would be a millionaire by age 30. He became a billionaire at age 31. Boy, was he wrong!