Are we the masters, or technology?

Are we the masters, or technology?

Despite being categorised as someone who is not tech-savvy, the technological era of binary digits and advanced telecommunications has influenced my life in more ways than I care to explain.

From a professional standpoint I have benefited from this wave of technology as a motoring reporter. There was a time when filing my stories from a laptop via a modem was so exciting (and gratifying) just because I didn't have to use, or fight for the dreaded fax machine. Fastforward to 2012 and all I need is a press room or an internet cafe.

Then there was my first motorshow at Frankfurt in the mid-90s where I had to drag my makeshift cart on wheels filled with automotive brochures and press kits from the motorshow to my hotel room _ three to four trips minimum. Automobile companies didn't give out CD-ROMs back then and the boxes of automotive literature would be frowned upon at the office due to the shipping fees and tariffs.

Today you don't even have to go to the motorshow. All you need to do is surf the net or click on to the dedicated websites of the respective automobile companies to gain access to product information and pictures.

Shifting gears to the mobile phone, it's a given that we can do so many things with it _ take pictures of food (a generally accepted norm nowadays), pay bills, play videogames, email and a host of other things.

However the aforementioned technology has also changed how people interact with one another.

Just observe your children at the dinner table and I'm sure their eyes are glued to the iPhone, BlackBerry or some Android version of the latest mobile phone.

Recently while using the BTS skytrain, I noticed that more than half of the people within my vicinity were busy with their mobile phone. I realise that personal space is a big issue in this part of the world but perhaps this might be taking it a tad too far.

Even the automobile itself, long considered a basic necessity in Thai society, has morphed itself with a myriad of technologies _ rearview cameras that pop up on a monitor when you engage reverse gear, lane-change warning systems _ so that future generations might not have an inkling of how to drive a car. Or the toilet seats in Japan which automatically wipe the seat cover and also performing cleaning details with a mere push of a buttons.

Again, I am in awe of technology's benefits because it has helped society "progress" in plenty of ways to the point that we are now addicted to technology.

The gist of this commentary is that society is making technology a necessity instead of its original purpose which is that of a tool.

Recently someone asked me what I felt was a threat to my profession and I guess it is technology itself despite all of its benefits.

I belong to a generation that still wants to feel a newspaper in my hand while taking a dump in the morning.

Yet even the best efforts in providing quality newspaper content might not be able to prevent the extinction of a physical newspaper. I sincerely hope I am wrong in this prediction.

Apart from the annoying practice of morning television news channels that take advantage of journalists' hard-earned work by reading the newspaper headlines on air _ some of us actually prefer reading the newspaper on our tablet or computer.

Perhaps if we become more aware of how we use technology as a tool instead of putting it up on a pedestal as a necessity, then technology will improve society as a whole.

Alfred Tha Hla is a motoring writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.

Alfred Tha Hla

Motoring Reporter

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