Last time I asked, “If you had to get rid of one piece of the technological stuff you use every day, what would it be?” This time the question is reversed and A LOT harder: you can only keep one thing.
This is a really sneaky and difficult question because technology, writ large, is so deeply embedded in our lives. Consider all of the things that are powered by electricity. The electrical grid that brings power to our homes is so critical that if you want to keep one electrically powered device, you have to either also keep the grid or replace it with some other technology that would generate electricity—and that violates the “rules” of this question.
So that means everything powered by electricity has to go: not just computers and smart phones, but refrigerators, washers and dryers, televisions, radios, light bulbs, heating and air conditioning systems (even those that use electricity only to light a pilot light or control a thermostat), any vehicle that uses electrical power in any way, battery-powered anything…. Yikes!
By the way, that means no water service, either, since the pumps are electrically powered. Even “doomsday preppers” might forget this: how are they going to get their water after any supplies they’ve laid in run out? A well? It better be hand-pumped. So, no water unless you’ve already got a hand-pumped well.
But how was that well dug? How were the pipes and pump made? No pump, just a bucket at the end of a rope? Fine. Again, what tools were used to dig the well? How were they made? Same for the bucket: the handle, the staves, any bands to hold the sides together. And the rope. Where did the fibers come from? How were they harvested, cut, and formed into the rope? With metal tools? Metal forging is a technology. Since you can’t use any of these things, you’d better live near a body of fresh water… and hope you can survive the bacteria living in it. Double yikes!
This is why people worry so much about a cyber attack taking down a national power grid. If the damage is bad enough and wide-spread enough, it becomes a threat not only to the existence of the nation but of the people living there. Even the loss of a regional power grid for more than a few days would be catastrophic. Take away the power people use for almost everything, especially water distribution, and things get really bad really fast.
For the sake of this blog post, how far do we take this definition of “technology?” Are stone tools “technology?” Sharpened sticks? Controlled fire? If yes, triple yikes!
If that’s the case, I’d keep control of fire. I can do things with fire.
Taken to its logical extreme of NO technology of ANY kind except for one thing, suddenly the options become very limited. Primitive in a major way. Pre-stone-age. It’s a scary thought.
Maybe next time I’ll back this off a little, let us keep electricity.
What do you think? Could you manage if EVERY kind of technology in your life suddenly went away, except for one thing?
Fortunately, the technology of the comment box is still working (so far as I know).