Inventions are turning us into a country of robots

Michelle Poje

“Save time. Just scan, pay and go.”

This is what the sign by the self-scan cash register at Wal-Mart reads. In hindsight, it seems like a good idea – how many of us have grown irritated having to wait in long lines to be checked out? Just scan and pay yourself, all in less than 10 seconds. Easy enough.

Two weeks ago, my fiancé and I decided to try the self-scan registers. The first item refused to scan. The second item refused to come up for the sale price. When we ran our debit card, it denied us twice and then randomly gave us $20 cash back. By the time we were finished, the long line we had been waiting in earlier had shortened down to one person.

Now, I like technology. But the incident with the self-scanners got me thinking: How much are new technological advancements in our lives really helping us? Our generation is so obsessed with making our lives easier that we’ve started creating inventions that are either a) not making life easier or b) making us too lazy.

Take Square Eyes Shoes for example. Most of us are aware that childhood obesity is a problem in this country. But instead of parents just turning off the television and telling their children to go play, a student in Britain thought it would be easier to create shoes that do the work instead.

Here’s the concept. The shoes record how many steps the wearer has taken in a day. The number of steps is then calculated to determine how much television time the person can have.

How is this done? The shoes have transmitters in them that actually turn the television off until the wearer takes more steps. This encourages the wearer to exercise in order to earn more television time.

Come on, are kids so fat in this country that they have to have their shoes tell them when to exercise? Isn’t that what parents and personal willpower are for?

Or how about the new Toyota Pod, a car that has lights change colors to show the mood of the driver? Toyota claims the car is essential in alerting others of the driver’s mood. If the driver is angry because someone pulled out in front of him or her, the lights turn red. If the driver is happy, the car lights turn orange.

Whatever happened to just giving a friendly wave or the middle finger? Are we so lazy in this country that we can’t even flip the bird anymore?

These inventions don’t make our lives any easier – they just cause more irritations and suck up all our money. It’s not hard to wait in line or get up from the couch and take a walk. It doesn’t take a couple thousand dollars to show someone you can’t stand the way they drive. Why are inventors so keen at turning us all into robots?

My advice is simple: Don’t get sucked up in the world of modern inventions that serve no purpose. Don’t waste your money on a flashy product that does something you can do yourself. Technology is a great thing – but not when it takes over your life.

Michelle Poje is a senior newspaper journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].