Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Watch, The Dinosaur

The recent announcement of the Apple watch (iWatch?), is more than just another roll of Apple’s big dice. Even before it comes out, it’s an instant dinosaur. Why do I say this? Just look at the pricing structure: from $350 to $10,000!

Obviously, this is aimed at the richer (and more foolish) of the Apple faithful. Given the price of smart phones, who would pay $350 for a device that does less? There is a price point for a connected watch and it’s $50.

At least that’s what I thought was reasonable when I examined the idea a few years ago. A wrist watch, connected to your smart phone, seemed a viable product—at the right price.

It’s clearly handier to get/make calls, see the arrival of email, not to mention the endless clock functions it could perform. It could, but that’s not what Apple is aiming at. Not at those prices.

Most people are so attached to their wrist watches, they never take them off (not to sleep, and not even to have sex). The fact that most of these watches are self-powered makes this possible.

But Apple’s watch has an 18 hour battery life. How does that fit in with the way most people use their watches? It doesn’t, and that’s the way Apple wants it. Their watches are more symbolic than digital.

Non-connected watches are permanent devices (or jewelry) because people don’t have to think about keeping them going—or even keeping accurate time. I’m sure Apple’s watch will keep accurate time, as does any connected device. How many people can afford the time at this price?

The Apple watch may survive for a while as a status symbol, but as it’s priced now it’s sure to become extinct soon. And cheaper, lesser-known knock-offs will quickly fill its environmental niche—for a lot less money, maybe even for $50.

If some of that description sounds like natural selection, it’s because it is. Despite what many think, evolutionary survival does not mean superiority (except for the moment at hand) or any ladder of progress.

Survival means no more than that: survival. The cost of survival are all the failures, literally mountains of them. It would be better if we thought of evolution as blind selection. Success in this game is built upon massive waste.

I only point this out to suggest we can do better. The phrase to describe how is intelligent design. It can be more efficient and more productive than blind selection, if we design with intelligence and not blindly as nature does.


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