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Last week when I was curling (the game) with the men, I was making a unusual number of good shots. Finally, a fellow on the other team, turned to me and said “You’re a machine tonight.” Later, sitting around in the lounge, another fellow said the same thing.
I have been curling for only a few years now, yet, I have noticed something that can occur at times. The skip, that is, the person who is in charge of the team and calls the shots, may call one shot, only to have the person throwing the rock (actually sliding the rock on the ice) miss. The result can sometimes be an unintentional good shot producing a different, but positive result. It is a bit of a joke, but does happen quite often. We call it Plan B.
The Plan B concept might be worth a little closer look and consideration. It seems to me that humans are striving for optimal performance with such vigour as to want our society to be full of human machines. It’s not the only way we are becoming more like machines, but it seems to be the most intentional.
We are born into the routines of society. Almost immediately, we enter into a repetition of activities that allow us to fit into society. Later, we enter a journey through school systems that seem mechanized like a machines. We are trained throughout our lives to do particular activities and to do them well. We even reward the best. When we enter the workforce, it becomes a race to be successful and that means being the best. Doing things right.
But, what about plan B? Let’s forget, for a moment about the fact that humans are fallible anyway, and consider that, as in curling, sometimes things work out in other ways. Is our striving for perfection causing us to lose some of the plan B affects in our lives?
Back to curling. I am amazed at some curlers who do it all wrong and still make quite a few good shots and enjoy the game. In fact, they have been doing it wrong for so long that they are actually good.
Our society and culture seems obsessed with doing things the right way and the best way, and to becoming the best. Are we actually having a better, more human life? Are we happier performing at machine precision?
Next time you are watching professional sports on TV, notice whether the participants are happy. Hey guys, it’s only a game, have some fun!
Now, another question. Is our obsession with machines causing us to become machines? Let me re-phrase to a question that is one I ask regularly. Is our technology making us more human or, in making and using the technology, are we becoming more like machines?
Does anyone remember the German film from the 1020s called Metropolis? I remember the workers struggling to work the machines. It is an iconic image, but may well be playing out in our lives. Yes, many humans work on assembly lines with machines, even making more machines, doing work that would seem to be better suited to a machine. Wait, did I just describe machines making more machines?
Take a look at your online life. Chances are you have a computer and that you carry a cell phone and it is likely a smartphone that can connect to the Internet. I suspect that you check your E-mail at least once a day, probably more. You may also check Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media. They all organize information in various ways and you work within the structure of each.
Just before I began to write this I posted a reply to a discussion in a group on LinkedIn. They mentioned cyborgs. Here is an excerpt from my reply:
Cyborgs were always the stuff of science fiction, yet, in reality, it is true, many of us have been becoming partially cyborg for years now. And questions do arise. Think of the Olympic runner or the person with an implant that is controlled by software. What is it, for every 100 lines of code, there may be a bug, or something like that. What about hackers? I have heard of implants that communicate with a monitor station and that, in turn, is connected to the Internet and is monitored by doctors. I like to think that there are aspects of us, including spiritual, that may never be replaced by a machine.
It had been mentioned that Benjamin Franklin started the cyborging of humans with eye glasses. We have been slowly adding more technology to our bodies.
Whatever technology we look at, we can see how it adds benefit to our lives. It will also add negative aspects to our lives. Facebook allows you to make, what they call, friends, but do you really know them? As we fill our lives with machines, we actually become more machine like to use them and we strive to perform like a machine.
Things don’t always work out the way we plan. Perhaps, we could loosen up and expect the unexpected and remember Plan B.