Another year, another piece of boring technology (or perhaps not?)

So it’s 2023, and I can’t say I’m that enthusiastic about programming much this year. Thankfully I’m 50% retired now, which is nice – well 50% working, but potayto, potahto (teaching in the winter half of the year). There comes a times when everyone just becomes uninterested in what they do. I still enjoy writing programs, but there just aren’t too many interesting things to develop anymore. I think this is partially because things are just too complex now. It’s also because the image processing algorithms I once wrote just don’t speak to me anymore. For all the effort we put into these algorithms, most of them remained as algorithms, or have been superseded by some sort of ridiculous “AI” based algorithm, the success of which is ultimately very subjective.

To me it’s a bit like photography. I enjoy digital photography, but I also enjoy elements of analog photography as well. Digital has become very complicated, and has probably resulted in people being deskilled in the elements of photography. It’s also perhaps a tad less green as we think as the bodies of cameras past stack up in my library. Pros and cons to both, but with Ricoh considering building a series of new film based cameras, one wonders whether digital has done its dash? Maybe all things digital in photography have gone too far away from actual meaningful art, and much closer to crap. AI-generated photos aren’t anything interesting, apart from being algorithmic. I mean who really cares? Social media has become inundated with waves of nonsense.

Perhaps the age of technology has reached it’s peak? The telltale signs are there. Hardware technology hasn’t done anything special in years, as it gets harder to make things faster. Add more cores? Sure, but the reality is most people don’t need a faster laptop. The technical skill needed for technology isn’t exactly specialized anymore. Programming isn’t the hard part of technology, it’s actually designing the algorithms that takes skill – and problem solving is something people lack these days (likely due to having technology think for us). Finally, technology had become mature – a new smartphone will be the same as one from five years ago… there is very little to be gleaned in upgrading. The wonder years of computing technology are behind us. We need new methods of computing, and that may come some day in the second age of computing.

I mean we would actually all be better off if we reduced our dependencies on technology, and lived a greener life? As a society we should think more about the environment around us, sustainability, and living within our means. That doesn’t mean society has to stagnate, it just means we have to look for a new path the makes for a better life for everyone. I hate to say it, but a new iPhone offers us none of that – it’s just a device (but imagine if smartphones were modular with replaceable parts? Now that would be smart).


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