On the launch of the Simputer, a sort of Palm clone meant for the poor, PicoPeta chairman Prof. Vinay said: “Amida allows people to share information, stay connected and bond emotionally. It does these by breaking the fear of technology.”
Damn, now I know what was preventing me from bonding emotionally with people — my fear of technology. Now that Simputer is here, I will get over my fear of technology and bam! I will be bonding emotionally with people. Now I will finally get a life!
My point is rather pedestrian. One should try to be somewhat realistic about the scope and nature of a technical product. Inflated rhetoric about how it can lead to god-realization and enlightenment is foolish. It is useful to remind ourselves that technology directly solves technical problems. A handheld computer’s utility is limited to storing, retrieving, managing, and communicating data. It will not solve an interpersonal relationship problem no matter how user-friendly an interface it has. If electronic gizmos could have solved ‘bonding’ issues, then the US would have been one of the most friendly societies on earth and not need the battalions of shrinks it has. If having a Palm-pilot clone is all that is preventing people from bonding, then we have all our problems licked.
Whether one likes it or not, solutions have to be consistent with the nature of the problem. Interpersonal problems cannot be addressed by technical solutions anymore than transportation problems can be addressed by cardiac surgery.