Tech’ Paranoia takes over at Hifi Pig Towers and Linette Smith thinks ‘The Three Laws” are optional extras in the robots’ optical sensors. 

Technology. We are surrounded by it. Every corner of our lives seems to be becoming ‘techyfied’. Perhaps this is one of the reasons behind the Analogue “Backlash” and Vinyl Resurgence of recent years, are people wanting something simpler that they can connect to on a more personal level?

We are all spending more and more time interacting with our devices rather than each other, we spend hours on social media (guilty as charged!) liking things without really thinking about it; everything done with the swipe of a finger or the click of a mouse. What’s more the social media starts to control us, suggesting people we might want to be friends with removing even the basic social interaction of ‘You seem like an interesting person, can we be friends?’ Is it making us lazy and even opening us up to potential danger? If you meet someone face to face your intuitions and ‘potential-axe-murderer-senses’ kick in to keep you safe, that layer of natural security gets removed online.

I don’t really ‘do’ streaming. I had a Tidal subscription when it first came out and was actually very excited by it. It seemed like a great way to discover new music but for me the fact that you had to pay but never actually held the LP or CD in your hand was something that I was never quite comfortable with. But there was something else. The streaming services all make suggestions for you based on your previous preferences. Is this just a convenient way to discover new artists, or is it making us inherently lazy with our musical choices? Deezer Flow knows what you want to listen to before you do, if we stick to what our streaming app of choice tells us we want to listen to we can be missing out on so much new music that isn’t even on the subscription services. With so many new bands releasing great new material (check out our own dedicated music section for a fresh and decidedly NON audiophile selection) spending time down at your local independent record store could help you discover much more than just being plugged into your phone or computer. And what better excuse could there be with Record Store Day just around the corner?

If we spend all our time listening to streamed music we lose one of the things that makes music magical, the album. More and more we are listening to playlists, collections of single tracks and songs rather than the full album. I know that we don’t always have the time to sit down with a vinyl record, listen to the entire side and then get up, turn it over and listen to the other, but it is truly a wonderful thing to do. There are artists now making albums that are just another playlist, a collection of “tracks that could be a single” rather than the intricacies of a proper album. What if streaming had come along sooner? Would Pink Floyd have made Dark Side Of The Moon? Or would it have been a collection of Spotify -friendly, Tidal-ready tracks…that actually is quite scary.

This may shock younger readers but there was a time, long, long ago when ‘The Internet’ wasn’t around. In fact the internet and most of the gadgets that we take for granted today were just the future imaginings of Sci-Fi books and TV programs. We couldn’t even imagine the world of constant connectivity that we have today. We didn’t even have mobile phones, we had to queue up to use a payphone. I know, shocking, how did we manage? But that lack of technology in our everyday lives meant that our exposure to it was mostly fantasy. People of my generation were brought up on a steady diet of Sci-Fi on TV, film and in books. I am definitely showing my age when I tell you what fond memories I have of sitting on the settee, hiding behind a mustard yellow dralon cushion, watching Cyber Men and the Daleks with a mixture of delight and terror. Star Trek and Blake’s 7 had the technology that we couldn’t even dream off and Tomorrow’s World was like a sneaky peak in to a future of high tech that seems pedestrian now.

Having not grown up being ‘super connected’ to technology I, and I guess a lot of other people my age, have a pretty healthy mistrust of it. I will only let it so far into my life and I am, to be honest, a little bit afraid of it taking over. I’m sat here typing this with a post-it note over the camera on my laptop. I’ve only recently embraced having a smart phone and I’m still rather suspicious of it and its’ apps that want to ‘know my location’ and ‘access my information’. The idea of driver-less cars is quite frankly terrifying and the robots are taking over, would you want one sat in the corner of your living room? Nope me neither, I’d probably have to put a blanket over it’s head AND lock it in a cupboard at night! Even those robotic cleaners are worrisome, if you were to trip and fall, imagine coming round to find it busily hoovering up your hair! No thank you! The new little home hub type devices from Amazon and Google look innocent enough, but I find something sinister about them. It might make your life easier to shout random grocery items at them so they can do you an online shop without you even pressing a button…but isn’t that a step too far?

The robots are being put in charge of building the robots, with no need for humans…doesn’t that sound a bit familiar to you? ‘Terminator’ and ‘I Robot’ were meant to be fantasy…not a blueprint. They aren’t going to give two hoots about The Three Laws once they can take over the world. Even the fantasy stuff is getting way too serious, remember those Daleks, stairs were our last line of defence against them, now they can levitate, its the stuff of nightmares.

So back to the point of this article, we are living in an age that is super connected and we are bombarded by tech that promises to make our lives easier at every turn. This is a wonderful thing in so many ways but we don’t have to blindly accept it. We need to retain some control over our lives. Keep the personal touch, be a bit selective about when we use technology to make decisions about what we are going to watch or listen to. Turn off the streaming and put on a record. Pick up a book rather than a tablet. Make a proper cup of coffee and have a chat with a real person. When everything is handed to you on a plate, when every new technological development promises to make our lives easier, it makes it easier for us to be lazy and not think for ourselves…keep yourself human!

Linette Smith



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