Sunday, May 04, 2014


I Spy Oil on linen 36 x 36 cm 2014

I heard a story the other day. A story of a real event. A young person was reversing a that this person has driven before, but does not drive regularly. While waiting for the beeps...that help indicate if a car is getting too close to objects...the car smashed into a wall. You see...the car did not have a reverse parking sensing system, yet the driver, used to having such a system, still waited for the beeps.

Regular readers will know where I am going with this!

Yes. I have a concern that reliance on technology...even simple things like parking sensors and the like...will 'train' us to be unaware of our environment. We won't even think to do simple things like...look out the windows! How would we cope with the game I SPY? And, that brings me to a couple of previous posts I've written about this very topic. One is even titled Looking Out The Windows  Another is called Looking In The Rear Vision Mirror - Cosmically Speaking  And, another, possibly more obliquely related is Flick Of A Switch

Here's a quote, to give you a gist of these previous posts, from Looking In The Rear Vision Mirror - Cosmically Speaking 

So, 'looking out the windows' helps us literally and metaphorically practise perspective, seeing the close and far distances. Handy, in an age where repeated and continuous experience with the short distance between eye and screen exposes us to, and threatens us with, myopic sight and perspective.
In the middle of writing my last post I also thought...well what about the metaphoric possibilities of the rear vision mirror. If you want to know where I went with this metaphor click HERE
North South East West Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm [unframed]
So, now I see a metaphor in waiting for the beeps!
If we wait for the beeps, because we assume they will warn us of impending disaster, we relinquish all kinds of things, from dexterous understanding of our physical environment, actually looking and seeing, employing innate sense...and ultimately power, self control, self preservation, critical reasoning and more. I am not saying that we eliminate technological warning signals, but we must be careful that they are not the only tools and capabilities employed. They are not a replacement, nor even simply an augmentation...they are just another tool in our 'perception kit'. We need to be careful that an assumption of the existence of warning signals does not train us to NOT see for ourselves, thereby emptying our 'kit' of a range of practical human knowing when to ask questions, use imagination to predict and so on. Indeed a kit with only one, or at best, a couple of tools, is not going to help when technology is compromised...or not available. A tool kit, full of tools, is an excellent one when its full with everything that is available. AND, a full kit means you have the scope to double-check eg: if you don't hear beeps, then look out the window...and employ powers of visual perspective to gauge and determine action!
For an insight into tool kits I invite you to read my previous post called Tool Kit
Now, some might think I am a technophobe. Well, I am not. It's just that I have been around it for a long time. You see, my Dad is a HAM radio enthusiast. He was a grain farmer, but preferred to spend time in his HAM shack, which was full of amazing techno gear. He made our first TV in the early 60s, our first record player about the same time. We always had the latest cameras, movie cameras, telephone systems and more. And, being a farmer, there was plenty of scope for various kinds of technology with machinery etc. My brothers are both involved in technology, one even in areas like Big Data and super computing.
So back to waiting for the beeps: There are so many What ifs?
If we relinquish practical skills, our sensory perception skills, imaginations, intuitions etc to an assumption that technology is the only provider a plethora of services/capabilities, including warning signals...then I think we are at risk of missing a glaring warning signal...and that is in the word assumption. BEEP  BEEP!
A reliance on technology creates a vulnerability in that it could be compromised eg: hackers, breakdown, cyber attack etc. Couple this with the potential loss/erosion of human skills and I believe we have increased vulnerability. BEEP BEEP!
Damned Gouache on paper 21 x 30 cm
Serendipitously, while I have been writing this BLOG post, I was alerted [on Twitter!] to an article written by four very influential science thinkers Stephen Hawking, Max Tegmark, Stuart Russell and Frank Wilzcek. The article 'Transcendence' looks at the implications of artificial intelligence - but are we taking AI seriously enough?'  examines some of the pros, but also the cons of technology, specifically artificial intelligence. For me, the last part of the title 'but are we taking AI seriously enough?' is a very loud BEEP...a caution to look up and take notice. Actually the whole article is essentially a BEEP BEEP BEEP! Please read the is not a long one!
Risk Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2010
  • My latest newsletter with more about my recent overseas trip etc is available online by clicking HERE
  • There's a short article about my painting Super Earths Discovered in Highlife Downs Living The painting was a finalist in the $25,000 Stanthorpe Art Prize.
  • My studio is one of a few featured in popular online magazine Hyperallergic's regular A View From The Easel 

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