It’s all automatic

It amazes me how much of life happens without the need for much of my input. It seem to me that many of the things I do are automatic.

I don’t mean to say that my reactions to life are automatic as I feel engaged in life. My reactions to life are normal and healthy. It’s the worlds reactions to me that, more often, seem automatic.

One prevalent area of automation is the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is a system of interrelated computing devices or machines which have unique identifiers and can transfer data over a network without human intervention. These things may include: your toaster, coffeemaker, refrigerator, smart-thermostat or even your cat if you allow him/her their own Ipad. (just kidding about the cat) The benefit of the Internet of Things can vary from convenience, -such as a refrigerator-generated grocery list-to even notification of a fallen elder. I believe my watch can notify someone if I fall however I have not tested it yet. Icy sidewalks are just around the corner so I will let you know my results as winter progresses.

We are using heated mats this winter on our deck. These mats are closely laid together and produce enough heat to melt snow. All of these mats are controlled by electric outlets connected by Wifi to our internet router. I can set these on a timer to turn on at a certain time or I can intervene and control them myself. If I allow the timer to turn them on and off, then there is no human intervention however if I turn them on or off remotely are they still part of the Internet of Things? I mean if you go back far enough, there is always human intervention. After all, we are the ones who intervened and created the automation.

Even my vehicle is automated, and this is a problem. The vehicle lights stay on, as a courtesy, for a few seconds after I shut off the ignition key. I typically either stand and watch the vehicle until the lights go off or go inside my destination and watch through a window until the lights turn off. The automation works fine however I do not fully accept it. I leave the headlights in automatic mode however question the standards of the automation. Dusk and dawn are periods of time when lights may be appropriate however automation may not engage them. I switch on the high beam to see if the blue light comes on and sometimes it does not. I feel betrayed and turn the lights on manually.

Maybe trust is the line which prevents automation from removing our humanity. If I trust a vending machine as much or more than a human, then automation comes down to cost. However, if I am engaged with my fellow human, I probably enjoy the experience more, trust the experience more and then cost is not as great an issue. It also prevents the robots from taking over.

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