Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

When The Machine Stops


We are incredibly dependent on these machines but seem to be uninterested that they are all (including the rechargeable devices) dependent upon electricity. Not simply that they require electricity to function but the more we depend on these machines, the more we depend upon electricity. However, electricity is not a given; somehow it must be supplied. And supplied 24/7/365—without any noticeable interruption. Yet, when we buy that next great gadget, do we give a moment’s thought to the electrical grid that gives it life? Or to the fuel that powers the grid? Or the utility that delivers it to us; or the government that (more or less) regulates that utility. Do we give a thought to the capacity of that grid, to its future capacity? Not for a New York nanosecond.


Electricity, if you only look at ads for new devices, appears to be a given. I assume the manufacturers of these devices realize their future is dependent upon the future of electricity. But they don’t act like it. And they certainly don’t want to bother the buying public about this little detail. Edison forbid anyone should discuss the cost of having electricity at our beck and call. Or what it will cost tomorrow. Or whose responsibility is it to ensure we have the electricity we (and our devices) will need tomorrow. Like the song says, “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”


So here I sit this morning, without electricity for a full hour (so far). I’m writing this with pen and legal pad, by battery-powered light, realizing that my plans for the day may not be computer-assisted. I may be forced to rely on paper, memory, and ingenuity. (And possibly a hardcover dictionary to help me spell that last word.) I also realize I am better off than any currently conceivable form of artificial intelligence. I am human. Coping is what we do. We survived for millions of years without electricity. If we’re not careful, we may have to again.

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One thought on “When The Machine Stops

  1. Sunspots – electric grid failures? Yeah, we take a lot as a given. The past has not always been a good predictor of the future.

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