The following is a guest post.
During the last decade or so, innovations in the field of supposedly “user-friendly”* gadgets have hit the public awareness at a pace that makes Moore’s Law seem glacial by comparison. And as would be expected, most of these gadgets are considered “high-end” – the technical term for things that you and I and most of the rest of the world’s population will never be able to afford, at least for the few months it takes for third-world geniuses to reverse-engineer them, copy them, and sell them for pennies on the dollar on eBay. At that point, some of them are elevated to the status of essential tools. Here are a few that started out being pretty exclusive, but which have since weaseled their way into the life of everyday folks like us. After all, why should wealthy first adopters be the only ones who get to be miserable?
1) Smartphones – These wonderful devices allow us to do everything from defrost our refrigerator to check the weather in Bangkok, and everything in between. The hottest and most costly item in the field will, of course, be available for free within three months of your purchasing one, replaced almost immediately by the next generation of hottest and most costly thing. And despite all the wonderful tasks a smartphone will do for you, its batteries will still die in the middle of your most important call.
2) Televisions– That great flat-panel television you bought for a thousand dollars last Christmas just went on sale for $199. Why? Because it’s not 1080p, doesn’t have Wi-Fi, isn’t 3-D, and is so un-smart that you have to burden yourself with a (gasp!) remote, rather than just barking orders at it from across the room. And if you try to plug in that old VCR or laserdisc player, the television will automatically call the SPCE (Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Electronics).
3) Tablet computers– These are truly wondrous little contraptions that will do pretty much everything a $300 notebook computer will do (except actual work) for the bargain price of $500. Plus, you can actually set the entire machine on your lap, without having to juggle space between the display and the keyboard (which now takes up roughly half the display area). Your preferred alternative will be to purchase an overpriced keyboard, which will allow you to more easily do anything but real work for about a week before it dies or – in the case of a quaint dongle-connected model – its connector breaks off.
4) Backup cameras– Up until a few months ago, these gadgets could be found only on automobiles whose purchase price alone qualified the buyer as being someone who had sufficient wealth that they needed to be concerned about being sued for running over the neighbor’s cat while backing out of their garage. Nowadays, even the “cheapest” import cars are starting to come with the backup cams as a standard feature. So you can discreetly make note of the license plate on the car behind you, whose owner has been stalking you for the last few blocks. That way, virtually anybody will be able to alert the authorities to the threat… in theory, anyway, because their smartphone just died.
5) Connected appliances– Whether you like it or not, in a little while, your whole house will be connected, with your appliances talking to (and likely arguing with) each other. Your refrigerator will scan your milk when you put it in the specially-designated spot, and will send you a text message when said milk is going sour. Of course, it will also send a terse message to the equally-connected climate control system, berating it for keeping the place so hot and making the fridge work so much harder than it has to. The refrigerator will then place a call to the climate control specialist to schedule a service call (the appliance’s equivalent of a prostate exam). In response, the climate control computer will trip the fridge’s breaker in the panel, and you will arrive home that night with a bill for the service call, and a refrigerator filled with spoiled food.
We’d like to be able to tell you that with enough determination, you’ll be able to avoid such pervasive intrusions into your previously simple life, but we’d just be lying to you to make you feel better. Better that you know now that Skynet is real, but rather than striving to exterminate the human race from the skies, it will do so from the once-safe sanctuary of your own kitchen.
This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from people search. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com.