Quiet Desperation

Seems like the future wasn’t worth the wait


Wanting an additional serving of “thin gruel,” plucky parish workhouse resident Oliver Twist pleaded “Please, sir, I want some more.”

To paraphrase the indigent lad, “Please, sir, I don’t want some more.”

I don’t want a car that drives itself. I don’t want to tell a car what to do. I don’t want a car that stops when it thinks it should or parks itself.

I don’t want to tell my television what to do. Or ask Siri or Alexa anything.

I don’t want a vacuum cleaner roaming around the house on its own.

Skype, Zoom, leave the room.

I’m not interested in Extended Reality.

Enough. I have enough.

What do I have? A microwave oven, washer and dryer, refrigerator, a computer, a television, a landline telephone, an eight-year-old station wagon and a real dachshund.

Bernard Marr writing for Forbes noted, “We are amidst the 4th Industrial Revolution, and technology is evolving faster than ever. Companies and individuals that don’t keep up with some of the major tech trends run the risk of being left behind.”

Left behind where?

I have indoor plumbing and complete electrical.

Much of life worth living for still comes down to how we interact with each other, and many of the best moments do not depend upon technology at all.

Meeting a friend for lunch doesn’t require Silicon Valley experts to make it better.

Siri can’t explain why there is so much corruption and deceit in the world.

Alexa can’t explain gangs, cartels, mobsters, racism, homophobia or religious fanaticism.

Or why common sense is so uncommon.

The ad shows Cheerios strewn on the floor and a disc-shaped, overpriced, battery-driven, autonomous vacuum cleaner consuming them.

Big wow.

Harry does the same thing and warms the bed at night too.

Of course, were I in a line of work that depended upon technology I’d undoubtedly think differently.

My dentist, for example, has to stay current with new developments or patients would go elsewhere.

My dental history is extensive and began without anesthetics. They were available, but for some reason not provided. Maybe they were an additional cost my parents couldn’t manage.

A number of my teeth have been crowned. Until recently, a crown was a two-day experience.

First, the tooth would be prepped for the crown, an impression made and a temporary crown glued.

The impression was sent to a lab. A couple of weeks later a permanent crown was returned and positioned.

Now my dentist can do it all in one day with technology that wasn’t available to her years ago.

My theory is that many contemporary upgrades are the Emperor’s New Clothes.

The 2020 World Series was packed with “broadcast enhancements” and “game tracking through Statcast powered by Google Cloud.”

One of these enhancements was the “exit velocity” of a home run.

I want to know the exit velocity of a batted ball about as much as I want to know what’s in thin gruel.

Artificial intelligence gives the illusion that people are making progress, and in some instances we are, especially in medical areas.

But Grammarly? No you thank.

Perhaps you have seen ads for “realistic robotic dogs”?

There could be very good reasons for wanting an artificial pet. Nothing could ever, will ever, come close to the real thing.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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