Tag: Technology

The Virtue of Prosperity Book Review

The Virtue of Prosperity by Dinesh D’Souza was written at the turn of the century. The book looks at the impact of technology on various aspects of life from economics to morals. This work is part philosophical, part opinion. Some readers may find the arguments hard to follow.Book Cover

D’Souza divides everyone into two positions,” the party of Yeah or the party of Nah.” This generalization places society in two camps. The first camp is composed of mostly younger people who are embracing technology with little regard to the many warts. Then there is the second party, “the party of Nah” that sees nothing but warts.

The basic premise shared by D’Souza is that old cliché, rising tides raise all boats. He cites many instances of how Western Civilization is thriving. Even the poorest of the poor are better off. He does however give evidence from both sides.

Pros and Cons on The Virtue of Prosperity

Things I liked about The Virtue of Prosperity include the ability to look back at forecasts and see how they turned out. For example, when the book was written, prior to 9/11, cell phones existed but they were not as overwhelmingly present as today. Nor did they have the highly computerized functions of today’s Smart Phones.

Another thing I liked was the self-reflection stimulated by his view of the divide we are currently experiencing in the world. D’Souza’s division seemed to be along an acceptance of technology among moral grounds as much as age differentiation. I think our divide is too complex to easily categorize. But the book did make me think on this critical subject.

On the other hand there were some things I struggled with. The author is obviously well-connected. However, some of the anecdotes seemed to be along the lines of name dropping. Furthermore, some of the chapters were a stretch.

Quite a few dealt with moral issues, including the one focused on biotechnology. But, unless I missed it (always a possibility) some of the everyday good vs. evil problems were overlooked. In my opinion, one of today’s biggest problem with technology comes from hacking. This was not covered at all. In fairness, perhaps this is a matter of the topic being somewhat outdated.

I picked up The Virtue of Prosperity at a book sale. This book would also be good to check out from the library. The author is earnest in his concerns, but the reader might not agree with some of his generalizations.

Technology and the Very Young

The Very Young

There are times I wish I didn’t hate biology so much. This is one of them. I took a three-hour flight and in the row adjacent to mine was a 17 month old. She was quite fussy during the extra-long wait in the terminal and a bit perturbed at the start of the flight, but once electronics could be turned on, she became much happier. She touched the screen with purpose even though her language is limited to simple words, i.e. Mama, Dada, dog. How are those brain connectors wiring in her mind? Will this next generation be more comfortable with icons versus the written word? All I know is technology kept her entertained during the flight.

Smart Speakers

Already our machines tell us how much change to give, where to turn right (or left), and control our lighting and temperature in home or auto. I have yet to purchase an Amazon Echo or Google Home because I am leery of what they hear more than what they will tell me. According to this article in Macworld, the soon to be released Apple Home Pod will send less of your conversation on to the big data banks. However, Home Pod will still be listening.

GPS

GPS is treated skeptically because the technology can’t handle the many peninsulas along the Florida Coast. I still remember the tough time Siri or her android counterpart had back in January of 2013 when we flew into Fort Lauderdale on our way to Hallandale Beach. Maybe things would have been better for us in daylight. We would have identified the problem with the lady from GPS much sooner. At any rate by the third loop we knew to turn off the latest technology and go old school, we stopped and asked. Thank Heaven for 7/11.

Technology and Kids

Back to the youngster, I was tempted to ask to take a picture for the blog, but that goes against the grain as well. So I will try to paint a picture. This little one was very serious about her interaction with the I-pad or notebook. I couldn’t tell if she was playing a game or watching a cartoon. But, she was definitely interacting, most times with serious control and precision touch. She did not look like she was randomly touching the screen (although that may have been the case) and her touch was gentle. Yet there were old comforts nearby as well in the form of a much-loved bunny rabbit. When she finally fell asleep she snuggled with the bunny not the tablet.

Of the kids sitting directly behind me, one was a pre-teen and reading an actual book and reading aloud. Her little sister had pretty nice head phones on and was glued to some type of tablet with a curved top playing an animated movie. Again, a field day for the scientists. How does this technology change the hard wiring of their brains? There are many books out there discussing left and right brains and how technology is biologically changing the wiring of the brains. We are definitely at a major change in history, no less powerful or less significant than the industrial age and these young people will hopefully fully function with the new technology.

Economic Impact

The flip side is a dislocation of the working force above a certain age. I am not willing to put a set number on the age as there are always exceptions. However, I think part of the last recession was due to structural unemployment. The technological revolution is already impacting the economies of the world. Many of those pushed out of work did not retrain because their brains are not wired to the new technology, which makes retraining difficult. Face it, those of a certain age grew up to Captain Kangaroo and Romper Room and maybe a few added shows Saturday morning. Quite a difference from this generation who could watch animation 24/7 on a multitude of devices.

Currently, the economy in the United States as registered by the stock exchanges is skyrocketing. While I cannot confirm all Main Streets are also benefiting, I know that our small hamlet has had two commercial buildings completed in the last six months. One from the ground up and the other a rebuild from the shell of a building. This is considerable. In some recent years zero building permits were issued. I believe the growing economy ties directly into the surging technology I see our youth embracing.

Final Questions

There is a great unknown. How will occupations match up with capabilities? Let’s use microwave ovens as an example. Almost everyone can make a microwave heat something up, a simple matter of pushing buttons. However, few individuals could build or repair that same microwave. And how many could explain how one works?

Hence the parallel. Many of the kids learn at a very young age, like the 17 month old above, how to push the buttons. But how many will be able to fix, explain or, one step further, conceive the idea of the next invention to make our lives easier, our world better. Yet they are still ahead of the older generation. Some of us cannot even push the correct buttons needed to integrate the DVR, flat screen T.V. and independent sound system. Or program a Smart whole house climate control linked to a Smart phone.

Some of the remaining structural unemployment will ease each year as more Baby Boomers retire. But will the remaining workforce adapt to the new occupations? What changes will need to be made in training and education? How will Artificial Intelligence compete in the workforce? Will the IOT (internet of things, such as Bluetooth printers) become a security threat? So many questions for the next generation to help answer.