THE PORT RAIL: Technology is a blessing, but it cannot do everything

<pre><pre>THE PORT RAIL: Technology is a blessing, but it cannot do everything

I'll show my age here, but so what. Age brings experience and experience leads to knowledge, and according to Scripture, correctly interpreted knowledge leads to wisdom.

Now let me admit my reality. I am technologically inadequate or technologically challenged, or whatever you want to put it. My older grandchildren and my millennial son are tech savvy and show me things that make me feel like a Stone Age survivor who stepped out of the bush into a downtown Best Buy store in the Amazon. I know you were all there.

The last new car we bought is great for transferring my three big poodles, but I couldn't even figure out where to put the key to start after we signed the 6,000 papers required to complete of the sale were required.

"Just press this button," said the nice seller.

I did. Nothing has happened. "Well, you have to brake when you press the button," he suggested with a sincere smile when dealing with a senior.

Now that I continue driving, I had to digest the future of driving from another nice young man who works for Ford somewhere north in the Detroit area and was out at Will May Dog Park over Christmas and walked with his mother went dog. I talk to almost everyone in the dog park, which is located in Sokol Park. I recommend it to the rest of you crazy out there. It's a great place for men and women, and almost everyone is friendly. I asked my new friend what he did.

"I work in autonomous vehicles," he replied as we walked through the park. "Autonomous vehicles," I wondered aloud. "Like vehicles that drive themselves?"

My father was born around the time when Henry Ford put a Model T in everyone's hands at the beginning of the 20th century, and now all we can do is sit and let the car drive?

"Will this be an improvement for a person driving?" I asked innocently, but I guessed the answer when our dogs took off for a tennis ball.

"Oh yes, gosh, yes, a thousand percent! The cars will think, observe, display, interpret the data, react, everything. “I thought for a moment about all the idiotic drivers on the street that I watch every day and thought his answer was very reasonable.

We kept chatting as our boys chased tennis balls, sniffed other dogs, and did the usual dog stuff. The young man studied electrical engineering at the University of Alabama and holds a master's degree in business administration. I don't know if he's a legend, but you EE and MBA guys, this guy competes with the best.

OK, back to technology.

I just read a piece where the new generation of geeks ironically use paper calendars to keep track of their dates. They like "paper" – it enables them to get in touch with the world of their parents and grandparents. You may also hear Elvis occasionally.

What does the technology promise? Let me get to the point here. Technology will take care of all our needs and desires, but can it cure poverty, hate and war? I'm sorry to take it so seriously in a semi-serious column, but we live in a real world, not a virtual world or one where we can only happily get through while computers are taking care of our home, driving for us, and Medical technology heal everything.

Let me clarify here: Science and technology have been a blessing in our modern world for around 150 years. Who would argue against everything from the rural electrification of our homes and courtyards to the magic of modern medicine? On the other hand, technology has also given us the ability to destroy civilization around the world with nuclear weapons that rain down from space stations.

How do we use technology to cure poverty, hate and war? It quickly becomes clear that the computer majors who come from Stanford cannot deal with matters of the heart so easily. However, if we can build autonomous cars, why can't we cure cancer, prevent radical Islam from executing Christians, and feed Africa's starving millions?

State-of-the-art scientists are only a few steps away from reinventing people using computer-controlled technologies, changing DNA and inventing the perfect person. Sci-Fi gurus already have superhumans who jump through space, perpetuate evil, or destroy evil geeks and their mechanical subordinates.

I think I'm just going to look for my Alexa and ask her: Alexa, how can we do things right? She will know. Alexa knows everything.

Larry Clayton is a retired professor of history at the University of Alabama. Readers can email him at