If I’m representative of the American state of mind, then the nation is suffering from fatigue. Frankly, I’m unable to cope with technology’s rate of change. News seems to travel at the speed of light. I learn about bombings in Paris faster than I do about what’s on the lunch menu at the retirement center.
Worse, the news I get tells me old debates are being reborn. Not only is Rove v. Wade up for grabs but gay rights, deportation issues and pipelines are roiling along, as is Net Neutrality which, presumably, was settled last year. Nonetheless, when Donald Trump appointed Ajit Pai to head the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the man began an immediate assault on the rule that treats all internet data equally.
The FCC is one of the last checks on humongous conglomerates that want to exert control over how people access the internet. Without restraint, companies like Verizon and Comcast can give preferential treatment to their interests over those of competitors. That the battle, just won, is about to begin again leaves me disheartened and fatigued.
Worse, as I contemplate the renewed FCC battle, another technology threatens on the horizon. A startup company has developed an algorithm that detects speech patterns in people who suffer from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. “A softness of speech resulting from lack of coordination over the vocal muscles…” (The Week, Feb. 24, 2017 pg. 18.) Once perfected, the program could be a boon to insurance companies but not to consumers. One phone conversation and an individual might face medical discrimination leading to premium exclusions or higher costs.
Blue-collar, pink-color or white-collar, workers share a need to know how advances in technology are altering our lives and our society. At the moment, few in Congress are monitoring the situation or know more about the subject than the average citizen. I have a hard time remembering my passwords, so it seems to me the future for humans doesn’t bode well.