When I was a kid, my grandparents rented a vacation home on Lake Michigan. The home was on a cul-de-sac between the inventor of the machine that de-bones ham and the guy who invented the part of the Maytag washing machine that breaks immediately after the warranty expires.
I recently remembered the part that breaks when my iPhone upgraded its operating system and everything stopped working. I liked my phone. I didn’t want to upgrade to the newer, sleeker version. At this point, it seems silly to call it a phone, since I get angry when people call me.
Mobile phones are getting smaller! Now they’re getting bigger! MAKE UP YOUR MIND DECIDING WHAT WE WANT, SILICON VALLEY.
Our benevolent lords at the Apple Corporation invented a device that made me completely dependent on it, and then continuously upgraded the content so that I am forced to buy a new one every two years because my old one ceased to function.
Occasionally, people suggest I’m “anti-technology” or that I’m a hypocrite for posting about the evils of Facebook — on Facebook. I believe technology does not exist outside of our society. I don’t dislike computers or apps any more than I dislike hammers; it’s the values of the people who design and use them I worry about.
Throughout history, someone predicted every technological innovation would usher in a utopia, while others declared it would ruin everything. People were always wrong. Technological change tends not to do either. Technology lets us keep being us, only more so.
People didn’t become self-involved narcissists when Jesus invented selfie sticks. People used to sit for hours for oil portraits to hang in their sitting room. Anyone who could afford to, did. Now everyone can do it, 50 times daily.
My smartphone enhances my natural inclination to stay in my head. I used to go to parties and read magazines in the corner alone. Now, there’s an app for that.
Current technology exists to meet the needs of rich white men. They are not concerned with regular $500 expenses to replace the device, so long as the gadget and the apps solve life’s inconveniences — at any price — without having to mingle with the serfs. But it could be different.
Let’s say that, early tomorrow morning, along Valencia, by accident, the Google Bus tech shuttle and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation buses are switched. They both pick up passengers in the Mission, thanks to Sheriff Vicki Hennessy. Programmers are returned to the Sinaloa cartel, and a busload of undocumented migrants are delivered to work at the Google campus. And Googladores don’t look up from their screens long enough to notice.
What kind of technology might migrants create?
Wearables. We’re talking about body cameras on cops. We could give cops Google Glasses that let them see black and Latino people as human.
Tinder, but for consent.
A ride-hailing app for people about to riot, to pick them up in the small business district they were thinking about smashing up, and instead take them to smash up the richest neighborhood in the Bay Area, the Brewer Subdivision off Crystal Springs Road in Hillsborough. The cars would provide bottled water and bandanas. The service would be called UpLyft. Disrupt disruption.
A personal drone that workers could use to find their pension.
A Netflix challenge to give people what they really need. “Because you watched ‘Jackass,’ you might also like homoerotic nihilism.” “Because you watched ‘Frost/Nixon,’ you might also like active listening.” “Because you watched ‘The Hunger Games,’ you might also like throwing off the yoke of oppression.”
The Internet of things would be different. An alarm clock that gets you woke.
An app for people of color to put white men on mute, called The White Noise App.
It’s a hackathon to show that another world is possible … if only liberating the oppressed was lucrative for VCs.
Nato Green is a San Francisco comedian who will be closing SF Sketchfest tonight at Cobb’s Comedy Club with his show Iron Comic, also featuring Janeane Garofalo, Dana Gould, Greg Behrendt, Moshe Kasher, Guy Branum and Brandon Wardell. Send funds for the bus-switch caper movie @natogreen.