Posted by: rivettingkatetaylor | June 7, 2011

Can we live without them?

Can we live without them? No, not men… machines.

As I sit in my office with the lights on, computer going, washing machine doing a spin cycle in the laundry, dishwasher cleaning my breakfast dishes in the kitchen and my mobile resting on the desk beside me – could I cope without them all?

Before you think this is far too deep and meaningful for a Monday morning (well, technically it’s the start of the week – yesterday was a holiday!) the notion has been put in my head by a story on the Stuff website this morning.

Machines have won the war and the human race is destined to become little more than house pets,” the story begins.

That’s the future according to one of the smartest geeks on the planet, Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple Computers and is convinced that in his lifetime he will see computer intelligence equal that of humans. The Woz is to the technological world what The Fonz was to leather jackets and denim, and when he talks, the global industry listens. As technology explodes, humans are not going to be needed so much in the future and will settle back into a life of ease, Mr Wozniak told a business congress on the Gold Coast on Friday. “We’re already creating the superior beings, I think we lost the battle to the machines long ago,” he said.

“Every time we create new technology we’re creating stuff to do the work we used to do and we’re making ourselves less meaningful, less relevant. Why are we going to need ourselves so much in the future? We’re just going
to have the easy life,” he said.

“My comment about the machines winning the war is partly a joke, but we’ve accidentally already put so much in place that we can’t get rid of from our lives. Once we have machines doing our high-level thinking, there’s so little need for ourselves and you can’t ever undo it – you can never turn them off.”

Scary thought. Bet Arnie never thought the Terminator would be so close to home.

We recently did the 40-hour famine to raise money for poverty-stricken kids in East Timor. Now going without food for a couple of days was bad enough. But could we go without our technology? We do it easily enough on holiday (kind of) by turning off the phones and the TV and leaving the washing til we get home. But what about in our homes on a normal week day?

But how far do you take it? Washing the dishes by hand is one thing, but carrying the water from the tank, heating it on a fire in the backyard and carrying it inside to wash the dishes is another concept entirely. And could I use a plastic bucket or a fancy saucepan? Technology helped make them.

Thinking about Canterbury having to face more aftershocks over the weekend (and my visiting sister and niece being in the middle of them this time – Jody’s first earthquake!) some Cantabrians would have been forced to have their technology-famine. But look how many couldn’t cope without running water, toilets and power in their homes (stress of the earthquakes aside – I mean no disrespect to what they’ve all gone through).

Anyway, time for a coffee. I’ll think about technology while I wait for the kettle to boil.



  1. and then I pop to the shop in my car to buy batteries for my keyboard (lol)

  2. I guess if we really had to we could cope without all the gadgets we have in society today, just as you say the people in parts of Christchurch have over the past few months.
    I have just read “a life on Gorge River” by Robert Long, who has lived in isolation in South Westland for 30 odd years and has coped without any mod cons even while he and his wife bought up 2 children.
    So it can be done, but then we are so used to just flipping a switch, and many would find it very difficult, especially those who are in their younger uears who have been bought up with all these machines.

    • I take them for granted, even though my world has adapted to them, as opposed to being born ‘with’ them. My children expressed great delight at the weekend when told both mum and dad watched What Now when they were children – as if we shouldn’t have had TV or electricity! We’ve just bought our children a motorbike – better than a playstation!

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