Thursday, April 7, 2011

Are we going forward or backwards with technology?

Are we really going Backward instead of Forward?
When it comes to the use of Digital Technology

By: Nick Markowitz Jr.
Fire Investigator and Researcher

As new and emerging technologies come out almost daily we have to now ask ourselves are we really benefiting from them or are they going to lead to our demise. Are we advancing civilization or hurting it. Are we getting smarter or more stupid with technology?
Look at the latest Toyota Automotive fiasco with cars automatically accelerating and many experts pointing at the electronics and computers being used in the cars as the problem a problem not found nearly as often with mechanical systems which worked fine for hundreds of years in all types of technology till electronics came around.

Take this as a typical example Anti Lock Braking Systems.
They were billed as an end to rear end collision and other accidents being avoided and instead Anti Lock brakes have been blamed for the cause of many accidents and deaths because the driver did not use them properly.
Why because when properly applied you must put your foot down and hold it in place when you do this the anti lock system comes on but then it makes horrendous noises and some times shakes the vehicle when applied people think something is wrong and let up from the brake pedal and vehicle fails to stop or the driver instead of pushing down and holding mistakenly pump the brakes making them useless.
Before this technology was released drivers should have been mandated to attend classes where they put a vehicle into a simulated crash so they would know how there going to respond no written word or video is going to do it you must actually experience it so you know what to expect.
But did we do this no and hundreds have died as a result over last 20+ years it has been available.

Lets then look at Photography. We almost all have used a digital cameras there great no more film to play with but what about storing all this digital media .We are finding out there are problems with digital cameras unlike Film negatives and prints which can last for ever if properly handled and stored we are already finding out digital storage media is deteriorating and many pictures are now lost to history. The other problem 30 years from now will you still be able to view the stored media on a CD/DVD or thumb drive will these types of readers still be around. With a print or negative you can put it over or under a light and there it is no technology involved. Again are we going forward or backward are we benefitting from short term gains for long term losses.
The same can be said with Vinyl Record Vs. CD or MP3 file again records will last forever but not CD’s and mp3 files there is now an on going revolution that is bringing vinyl back some music groups are actually cutting new albums on vinyl.
Also do not forget high fidelity and other music technologies now all being replaced by digital but any real audiophile can tell you nothing replaces the true sound vacuum tubes produced. In fact there are various digital music production software programs which try to reproduce the sound for commercials and movies etc.
Again are we going forward or backward.
What sounds better that scratchy old 50’s rock and roll vinyl record that was recorded in mono or a newly re-mastered version in CD quality? I vote for the old record.
Again when scholars research what Elvis actually sounded like a 100 years from now and there are no more vinyl records will they truly know what he sounded like and why the entire buzz about him I doubt it. Again are we going forward or backward.
How about those old Red Gamewell Fire Boxes that you could find on the phone poles.
They always worked even when all power was out even if the phones where out even if there’s a line break on the red boxes they still worked. That’s why San Francisco still maintains them there the only thing working some times after an earthquake.
Yet every town has gotten rid of them but for a handful and as we found out after the big snowstorm of 2010 cell phones ,digital phones etc where useless because digital does not have the back up non fail design analog technology like those old red boxes did.
Again what have we gained from digital other than lower cost? Nothing we have actually put the population at greater danger. Of course had all the dangers digital phones pose been told to those getting them they probably would have thought twice before getting rid of that old reliable ma bell phone?
How about the new code all new homes must have arc fault breakers in them to prevent fires great but new homes do not need them as much as old homes and 20-30 years from now when the breakers need to work will the electronics function I wonder or will it be like GFCI- Ground fault outlets which there have been several revisions because of technology short comings.
How about all the new homes must now have fire protection sprinklers but already a fatal fire and explosion has been attributed to a fire sprinkler system because the antifreeze in the pipes to protect them was mixed improperly and exploded when the sprinklers came on to put out the fire are you still now in favor of sprinklers for homes?
Or how about Elevator shafts which they require fire protection sprinkler heads in and which they require the power to be shut off before the water flows. Unfortunately they have failed to design into elevator codes a sure fire way to know an elevator has safely gotten to a landing before the power goes off and sprinkler comes on and as a result some day some one is going to be trapped and die of smoke inhalation or electrical shock in an elevator car because engineers have failed to properly design elevator codes. Why do we even need sprinklers in elevator shafts the pit area yes but the shafts are fire proof designed.
But that’s the problem designers of technology they do not want to admit its short comings they emphasize only the good points not the bad and society is suckered into it with out asking all the questions which need to be answered. Yes I love technology and I install and repair it but I also know its dangers and respect it and try to educate those who I put it in for that’s the difference. I try to back up technology properly so it will work during power failures and disasters something many others do not do. I design back ups to the back ups but even they can fail. But how many systems are out there with no back up at all and they could very well imperial your life one of these days.
Some days you have to wonder was The Uni-Bomber really on to something when he railed against technology? Was he trying to teach us about the dangers we now face but in a vastly perverted criminal way. I bet he is snickering in his cell right now.

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