Writing this post, as if by magic the song lyrics FOR THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGING popped into my head. Quite why I'm not sure for, to be honest, I didn't know who the song was sung by let alone what it was about. Cue Pooter and his wonderful mind of knowledge (otherwise known as the search engine) and there it was, The Times They Are A-Changing by Bob Dylan - pretty strong stuff, the last verse "The line it is drawn, The Curse it is cast. The slow one now, Will later be fast ........" seeming somehow or other particularly so.
Yes, I'm having one of those days when I'm pondering just how things are a-changing and asking myself just where it will all end for this last decade seems to be one in which technology, to name but one thing, has come on in leaps and bounds.
Take for example the iPHONE, a line of Internet and multimedia enabled smartphones (well that's me lost already) which seem to be all the rage. Not just content with all the technology this device has to offer, users have invented a whole new 'language' to go with it - the 'app' which as Tanya Gold, writing in the Guardian on THE RISE OF THE iPHONE GENERATION, comments is "Not so much a word as a flat, bored grunt" for "Customers cannot be bothered to say 'application'. That is three syllables too far for the avatars."
Now as many of you are aware I'm not the most technological of people. My mobile phone is just that, a phone on which I can make and receive calls and send and receive text messages - to show how much of a 'dinosaur' I am, I can't even take photographs with it let alone access Pooter or make a cup of tea. Anyway, also being somewhat gullible at times, I wasn't sure how many of these 'apps' were real and how many not. "Pooter do you know?"
Well well! The iFART is one 'app' that certainly exists. A holiday special "This pack contains ten new festive flatulations including Jingle Smells and, Not So Silent Night." Now is it just me or does it seem a touch ironic that this amazing technology is available and yet is used to such juvenile ends by a certain number of men? Sorry men, but I can't see this 'app' being on any woman's wish list, can you?
Definitely more useful than the 'ifart' is the news that Gecko Systems announced that it had been running trials of its "fully autonomous personal companion," also known as a CAREBOT designed to help elderly or disabled people to live independently. Very interesting but as Peter Singer and Agata Sagan, also writing in the Guardian, pointed out what will happen 'WHEN ROBOTS HAVE FEELINGS'?
At present, robots are mere items of property. But what if they become sufficently complex to have feelings? After all, isn't the human brain just a very complex machine?
If machines can and do become concious, will we take their feelings into account? The history of our relations with the only nonhuman sentient beings we have encountered so far - animals - gives no ground for confidence that we would recognise sentient robots as beings with moral standing and interests that deserve consideration.
(A) cognitive scientist has pointed out that powerful new technologies, like cars, computers, and phones tend to spread rapidly, in an uncontrolled way. The development of a concious robot that (who?) was not widely percieved as a member of our moral community could therefore lead to mistreatment on a large scale.
Yes times are indeed a-changing and yet sometimes you have to wonder if it's for the better - take for example the ifart or indeed this couple from Poole in Dorset who were so fond of their beloved Kia Carens people carrier car that they named their daughter Kia after it.