A Journey through the Spooky Forest of Progress

                There are new developments afoot in cash machine security. The next barrier to techno tea leaves might be ‘ear recognition’ which, we are told, is to be more reliable than fingerprints. Among the high street interviewees on the subject, one young man was quick to point out that this innovation would be embraced by young people but that older people might not find it easy to accept. He may be right, although if it was to be a case of placing one’s ear on to a screen, we geriatrics may be at an advantage, having grown used to placing our ears where we can more easily catch sounds.

                Of course, the older generation is expected to be less able or willing to accept new developments in technology. I myself am something of a dullard in the use of my smartphone. It was in my possession for almost a year before I mastered the technique of answering a phone call and whilst I have worked out how to set the alarm I still haven’t learned the skill of switching it off, so it continues to chortle a merry ‘get up’ tune until I turn the entire phone off or smash it to pieces with a heavy object. I managed to get six favourite songs into the music folder, thereafter it stubbornly refused to accept any more, leaving me with a listening experience somewhat akin to ‘Heart’ radio.

                A plethora of innovations was on offer at the Las Vegas electronics show, including exciting new developments in televisions. The sets grow larger, the definition more defined, the screens are curved, they are ‘intelligent’. All this is very thrilling…and fascinating. But what crowds out even the largest screen like the proverbial elephant is one undeniable problem. Having bought the latest, enormous, smart, ultra-HD, surround-sound, curved screen TV, what on earth are you going to watch? The quality of programming has declined in inverse proportion to the number of TV channels on offer. At our house we are reduced to watching BBC 1 and 2, with the fallback option of QI on ‘Dave’ as a stopgap for when ‘Waterloo Road’ or some quasi talent show is on.

                But there may be a positive side to the dearth of watchable TV programmes. We may all discover the switch that delivers us from low budget crud and turns the screen to a soothing, restful black. Then we might discover the joys of reading, listening to music, playing games or even, perhaps, talking to each other. What a development that would be!


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