Yes Technology Improves Our Lives

I recently helped my son move about 1000 miles away. He was driving a truck full of stuff and I was driving one of their cars. This is a task parents and their children have been doing for decades. The details of doing it sure have changed.  

Our phones were connected to our vehicles, so we could press a button on the steering wheel and say “call x” and call each other or anyone at home to give them updates. To speak with them, we could just talk and we heard them through the speakers in the vehicle. (And when I pressed the button to speak, my audio book would pause, then restart when I was done.) 

We were also using GPS, so we heard directions over our speakers and could see the upcoming traffic as well as a continuously updated progress report. We also drive through toll gates and the devices on our dashboards confirmed our identities and withdrew the tolls.  

When we were getting tired, we called my son who was traveling for business so in some unknown motel almost as far from our starting location as we were. He booked a motel, added our names to the reservation, and texted the location and confirmation to us. We put that in the GPS and followed the directions.  

My son’s girlfriend was still at home, so she ordered food to be delivered to the motel. It arrived when we did—literally the delivery driver walked into the lobby before we had our room keys.  

On our second day of driving, I had an important meeting at work. I pulled into a truck stop, and launched the app on my phone to join the video conference. Two participants were on campus, the host was at home, I was on the road, and a fourth was even further away than I was as she was visiting her mother.  

When we had unloaded the truck and started to set up the house they are renting, my son gave a video tour to his girlfriend who was spending the weekend at a resort to celebrate a friend’s engagement.  

They saw a few things they needed, so she placed an order online and we picked up the items without shopping.  

I remember traveling and setting up new housing before we had all of these digital tools. We did a few things the “old way” on this trip. The GPS told us where to return the rental truck, but we went “off line” to find some interesting parks, trails, and restaurants.  

I am fully aware of the advantages I enjoyed during this trip and the potential for misuse of the technologies we used. They are not (yet) tracking speed or other violations with the tracking capabilities. We did not buy any health related products (except for some chili cheese fries and beer to accompany our fish taco dinner). I am a white male, so was less likely to be targeted for traffic stops than others. I expect someone made some money off the tracking and other digital Information I released during the trip.  

The trip has made me realize the benefits of the tools we have, but also recognize the fact we must insist businesses and governments and other who might gain access to our information use it in a manner we approve. And we get need to be sure they understand we get to choose, not them.