While I love technology, I have been completely disappointed in where we are, based on where I thought we would be when I was a child. Just look at the fact that we landed men on the moon in 1969 and nothing we have done since has topped that accomplishment. Below are just some of the inventions/developments of technology that quite simply put, are Underwhelming.
Snapchat – This is the stupidest creation in the history of humankind. Nothing more needs to be said. I for one look forward to the day the stock plummets into the abyss!!
Virtual Realty – No one really has any idea if it will be financially successful. There is little chance it could ever be as successful as the smart phone. Wearing those silly headsets is as primitive as those first cell phones. It’s cute for kids, much the same way the Talking Viewmaster was for my generation but it got boring quickly. The headsets are isolating and not that cool actually, having recently used one. The amount of money and time put into this technology will in all likelihood never be recouped. The only hope is here is virtual sex which will unquestionably be the direction that the tech companies need to explore.
The Fitbit or step counting devices in general, whatever you wish to call them, is as much a fad as the hoola hoop. Why? Because after everyone who purchased one realizes that merely tracking your steps won’t help you lose weight, or get in shape, the incentive of why you purchased one in the first place, will be gone. Tracking your fitness only makes sense if you make changes in your routine and eating habits. As I’ve written in a previous post, there is no shortcut or substitute for a daily routine of exercise. It’s not always fun and in fact can and should be exhausting but it’s not a fad and it works.
Go Pro – no one needs one, there is nothing proprietary about it. While the company tries to expand the technology, (drones for example), offering it will be too little too late. As the novelty wears off, sales will plummet and the company will no longer exist. Thirty years ago, I skied down Liftline in Stowe Vermont, one of the Front Four trails, with a video camera. I was able to get some pretty cool shots despite the lack of sophistication in my method. I might have even looked silly but what I do know is that if I had the idea, it can’t have been that great or ground breaking.
Hoverboard – is one of the silliest and dangerous items to come out in years, as two recent deaths by fire demonstrate. Biggest issue, is that they are unsafe. The second biggest issue is the fact that THE HOVERBOARD ISN’T A HOVERBOARD AT ALL!!! Doesn’t that bother anyone other than I?? It has wheels and rolls. That’s not technology and innovation. They’re also illegal in New York City.
Smart Appliances – Do we really need a refrigerator to alert us that we’re out of milk and eggs? Are we at the point where we are completely brain-dead? It’s as silly as having a device telling us that we need to use the restroom. This isn’t even a nice vs. necessary question. It’s simply unnecessary.
Drones – will be hot for a while but people will lose interest and as they crash and are too expensive to replace, the excitement will be gone. After you fly it around a few times and take video, then what? When I was young we had gas-powered planes, helicopters and launched rockets with parachutes. While it’s true they didn’t have cameras, they did become almost obsolete because we got bored. The same will happen with drones.
3-D Television – That was short-lived. Until they become usable and exceptional, without 3-D glasses, they will never become practical. In addition, you don’t necessarily want to view all of your programming in that fashion.
Electric Cars – I happen to be a huge fan EVs, having owned one. However, there are four major issues facing the future of this technology and I’m unsure as to whether the challenges can be solved. 1) Electric cars are great in warm climates like California and Florida but in cold climates like Maine and Minnesota, not very practical. On cold days, (mostly due to heating the car and seats) the battery range of my EV was cut by almost half. In addition, the harder you drive, the faster the charge decreases. That’s no different from gasoline powered vehicles. 2) As the batteries die, where are we going to dispose of them? 3) The infrastructure needed to support this technology is still lacking. 4) It takes far too long to charge the batteries. Even the Tesla Super Chargers take 30 minutes. Very impractical.
Self Driving Technology – Is this something that people really want? No one has asked that question. The only people excited about it are the technology companies spending hundreds of millions of other people’s money to develop it. It certainly could be great for the elderly and those with disabilities but the assumption that all others will gladly give up their automobiles, is a HUGE leap of faith. People still love their cars. They are an expression of who they are. And allowing cars t make potential life and death decisions is a frightening prospect. The argument that points to the high cost of ownership is utter nonsense. Most people in the U.S. figure out how to own at least one car unless they live in a city like New York. Anyone who has ever driven in L.A. understands that they are a long way from unclogging their freeways. Driving is part of the human experience that for most, can’t and won’t be replaced by self driving technology. That’s especially true of cars that don’t offer the option. In most areas of the country, obtaining a driver’s license as a teenager is a right of passage. The first time I drove in a convertible as a teenager, I fell in love. I knew that someday I would own one or three or four. Saying that this technology “is about saving lives” is the exact same thing as saying, “it’s not about the money.”
In closing, this drive towards replacement of everything that makes us human, is nothing to envy and should be resisted. VR is not the same as visiting the Grand Canyon and smelling the fresh air. Driving is in fact enjoyable, particularly on a beautiful summer day. If consumers reject this technology as I expect, Silicon Valley will suffer great consequences. Computers should not be tasked with making moral decisions like who should live and die in a real world scenario. Technology needs to improve people’s lives. Smart phones literally did that. From navigation, to banking, to music, to unique ways of communicating, the smart phone changed our lives. The world needed real advancements like anti lock breaks and air bags in cars. We need clean burning fuels and other green technologies. We don’t need self driving cars. We don’t need technology that makes it unnecessary to leave our homes and Live Life! Changing the world is about improving the human condition by adding fun to people’s lives not by diminishing it. As long as Silicon Valley creates what they want instead of what people want they will not succeed.
Finally, other than companies like Apple, that create real products that people wait for year after year, there is a huge bubble forming where unrealistic tech firm valuations based on investment rather than actual profit is going to cause the next great market crash. Where is my Jetpack???!!!