Posted on February 1, 2020


I am going to show my age here, but, so what. Age brings experience and experience leads to knowledge and, according to Scripture, knowledge properly interpreted leads to wisdom. On other hand, not all people over the age of fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety or 100 are wise. Wars are often made by older people, and look at our politicians today. Case and point made.

Now, let me admit my reality. I am technologically deficient, or technologically challenged, or however you want to phrase it. My older grandchildren and Millennial son are tech savvy and shows me things that make me feel like a Stone Age survivor who just came out of the bush in the jungle of the Amazon and was dropped into a Best Buy shop downtown. I know all of you have been there.

The last new car we bought from Toyota is great for ferrying my three big Poodles, but I couldn’t find where to put in the key and start it to drive it off after we signed the required six thousand papers needed to complete the sale.

“Just press this button,” the nice salesperson said.

I did. Nothing happened. “Well, you have to depress the brake as you press the button,” he suggested with a genuine smile at dealing with a senior citizen.

Now that I’m catching up on driving, I had to digest the future of driving from another nice young man who works for Ford up north somewhere in the Detroit area and was out at the Dog Park over Christmas walking his mother’s dog. I chat up just about everyone at the Will May Dog Park in Sokol Park. I recommend it to the rest of you dog nuts out there; it’s a great place for your guy and gal dogs and just about everyone is friendly. I queried my new friend what he did.

“I work in autonomous vehicles,” he answered as we walked around the park. “Autonomous vehicles” I wondered out loud. “Like, vehicles that drive themselves?”

My father was born just about the time Henry Ford was putting a Model T in everyone’s hands at the beginning of the twentieth century, and now we will just be able to sit and let the car do the driving?

“Will this be an improvement on a human being doing the driving?” I asked innocently, but suspecting the answer, as our dogs took off after a tennis ball.

“Oh, yes, my goodness, yes, 1000%! The cars will do all the thinking, observing, viewing, interpreting the data, reacting, everything.” I thought for a moment about all the idiot drivers on the road that I observe every day and considered his answer very reasonable. “Autonomous” vehicles. It even has “auto” in its name!

We continued chatting as our guys chased tennis balls, sniffed butts, and did their dog things. The young man BTW was a UA graduate in electrical engineering and also had his MBA. I don’t know if he is a legend in the making but you EE and MBA folks, this guy is competing with the best.

Ok, returning to technology. BTW, I just read a piece where the new generation of geeks are turning to paper calendars to keep track of their appointments. They like “paper,” it kind of allows them to touch base with the world of their parents and grandparents. Maybe they listen to Elvis occasionally also.

So, what does technology promise? Let me cut to the chase here. Technology will take care of all our needs and wants, but can it cure poverty, hate, and war? Sorry to get so serious in a semi-serious column, but we live in a real world, not in a virtual one, or one where we just drift through happily as computers take care of our home, drive for us, and medical technology cures everything, especially, apparently ED very well these days. Take one of the new pills and you guys are back in business, with the wives shouting in delight. Ok, enough of sex. I’ll really get in trouble if we go back to the Apostle Paul on all this sex and gender stuff.

Let me be clear here: Science and technology has been a blessing in our modern world, or for about the last 150 years or so. Who would argue against everything from the rural electrification of our homes and farms to the wizardly of modern medicine? On the other hand, technology has also given us the ability to destroy our civilization across the globe with nuclear weapons showering down from space stations.

Some claim we have polluted our world, warming trends now threatening our polar bears and claiming our beachside condos with rising waters. The changing temperatures of the earth I’m not going to touch, especially as in studying the sixteenth century in the New World, it was apparent to many observers that the bitterly cold climate marked a new mini ice age. And then it warmed up again. Maybe it was the Puritan preachers of the eighteenth century with their hot air and rhetoric as they launched the First Great Awakening.

I know some of you are going to think this is no laughing matter. Indeed, it’s not, but if you lose your sense of humor, you’ve lost one of God’s great gifts: to laugh at ourselves.

So, how do we apply technology to curing poverty, hate and war? It becomes quickly apparent that matters of the heart are not so easily addressed by the computer majors coming out of Stanford. However, if we can make autonomous cars, why can’t we cure cancer, stop radical Islam from executing Christians, and feed the starving millions of Africa?

Edgy, or those on the leading edges, scientists say we are but a few steps away from reinventing man with the help of computer-driven technologies, altering DNA, inventing the perfect human being. Sci-fi gurus already have super-humans leaping through space, perpetuating evil or destroying the bad geeks and their mechanical subordinates.

I think I’ll just go find my Alexa and ask her: Alexa, how to we make things right? She will know. Alexa knows everything.

Published as “Technology can’t do everything,” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday Jan. 12, 2020.

Posted in: Technology