Grist Columnist: Technology

bulletin-248Not exactly being a millennial but father to two of them, I spend a lot of time wondering lately if technology is really doing us much good as a species.

Sure, I know that things that come from science like vaccines and antibiotics have improved our life conditions and life expectancy significantly. The gasoline engine, cordless tools, the internet, cell phones, you name it, they’ve all made life more convenient for us in a way.

Robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are the coming things, of course. I’ve been watching automation applied to the apparel industry for three decades and you know what, I’m not too worried about robots taking over the sewing business. It’s still a craft based on fashion, so only a human being working needle and thread can achieve the infinite variety needed, and no AI would come up with some of the things I see on runways – too much logic, not enough whimsy.

But even with its limits, there’s no denying that technology is taking over more and more of our lives. When’s the last time you couldn’t think of a name and DIDN’T Google it to find out? When’s the last time you saw people in a line, most of whom WEREN’T staring down at their smart phone screens? When’s the last time someone asked if you’d heard the news, and you HADN’T, because you always know instantly what’s going on?

On the other hand, when has a piece of techonology smiled at you, looked you in the eye, wowed you with a clever idea?

Seems to me, as technology is more dominant in our lives, these are the kinds of things that get lost. And that’s why I’m glad I’m serving an industry that’s all about human creativity – with technology there just to assist.

John F. Rebrovick

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