Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Artificial Smart(ASS)ness

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I cosily laid down on my bed with my favourite book as the night slowly crept deeper and deeper into the darkness. "Just one more page and I will go to sleep", I said to myself. Was that so easy to stop reading a book you are hooked into? Any book lover will respond, “EASY?? Are you crazy or what? It is impossible to stop reading once you get going. It is not like a breakup with people for God’s sake!”
Usually, I got engrossed in a book until I finished reading the last page. Now, lay ahead of me the toughest job of getting up and switching off the light which I did not even notice so far. In those days, the switches were located near the door so that we could switch them on when we enter the dark room. Now, after laying around and reading for hours together I was so lazy to get up and walk up to the light switch. There were times when I would actually wait for someone to wake up for ‘Peeing’, or make some slight noise to wake up someone so that I could get them to switch off the light and go to sleep. There was a lot of drama involved when someone would actually wake up to find a bright bulb burning in my room. First they would call to check out if I was awake. I would pretend to be asleep. They would grumble, mumble and curse the girl who forgot to switch off the light and do the job. Morning I would stand hanging my head in shame when I was accused of running electricity bill high, being the cause of power cuts and many more things of which I am sure I was not responsible for; but, I kept quite without arguing the usual way so that they would actually do the job when I needed it next time. Honestly, many people fall the bribe of getting a chance of berating someone very easily.
Then came the time when the switches were shifted to easier location when I could reach them a bit more easily. Never in those dramatic days did I even imagine that there would be a #SmartHomeRevolution with Smart lights where I have to just say “Ok Google, switch off the light” and it would actually happen. Off course I may have to work a bit on my accent. Today, as a mom of a daughter with special needs who has mobility issues, the #SmartHomeRevolution, envisioned by Flipkart to encourage every home to use Smart Home solutions to simplify mundane tasks with a click gives me hope that her life will be easy when I am not around to help her out.
My advent into the world of AS (artificial smartness) started with a gift of calculator for basic mathematic calculation. I was surprised with the speed and accuracy of this tiny box which was calculating at such a speed. Today, I have come a long way from there.
Computers, internet and mobile phone changed my life forever. I cannot say all the AS I have around me are for good. The benefits of Smart Gadgets depends on how I make use of them. The Smart Ass Gadgets and Gizmos have been either hindering or helping people, but there is no denying their arrival with a bang.
Entertained without getting out of bed..... Not good!
The curse of the smart gadgets is how they are affecting the lives of our children (especially the toddlers). Recently, I was discussing with a 7 year old, how I found it very difficult to feed children. I often allowed my children to eat on their own even when they were very young. She responded by saying, “Aunty, it is very easy to feed children. Just keep a mobile in front of them and put food in their mouth. They will eat food without any fuss and even grass if you feed them this way”. It not only shocked me, but also hurt me to hear this version of feeding children. As I started talking to parents of toddlers, I heard it is true. They usually whined, “What to do? He/she won’t eat at all throughout the day. Finally we have to give in and feed them this way”. These are the times when I feel, AS is making us behave like an Ass. We are losing our parenting skills and also our creativity.
These creative moments are replaced with people each having a mobile phone of their own
Another challenge that comes with the AS is fitness. There were times when we felt bored and went out for a walk, to visit a friend. Now, surrounded by these smart gadgets there is not a dull moment in our lives. What about the exercise? Often we do that by watching fitness videos on YouTube. The TVs are becoming thinner when people watching it are getting fatter. This is when I feel AS is making a fat ass out of us. 

Will our memory become weak with time? Who wants to remember phone numbers, address, names or information anymore? Aren’t they available at the click of the button in those tiny mobiles in our hands?
Sometimes, I am amazed how much I am dependent on my mobile phone for everything from shopping, managing my business, banking, keeping in touch with friends and family and many more.
The virtual world has become so fulfilling and competing with what valuables we had in past, that I am afraid in not so far future - pets, relationships, and children as well as, may be even parents will be substituted out for smart gadgets.
One of the main attractions about AS gadgets and gizmos is they do not leave behind residue of guilt at all. Remember the time you forgot to feed your pet, water the plants, take good care of relationship? 

Don’t they leave behind a strong residue of grilling guilt for you to deal with? In olden days we had some affection and tiny place in our hearts for the gadgets, but now we cannot wait to replace them.

We have to be smart along with the smart gadgets we use to make the best of our relationship with them. It is like fire. You can use it for your benefit or for destruction.

There were times when we had to stand in front of camera for hours in poses before the button would finally click. Today we don’t even know when we are being shot (by cameras I mean). Though it is scary to be caught unawares by those smart phones, it is such a blessing to have Smart Camera in my life.
When I started a Preschool and Daycare centre, the biggest challenge I faced was that of security of my tiny tots. Having a smart camera watch every move of the people in my daycare and preschool gives me peace of mind. 
With lurking dangers for children around every corner, they act as extra eyes for me. As a mom of special needs child, again this is blessing. I have said goodbye to most of insecurities and apprehensions by knowing through the smart camera what is happening, rather than allowing my imagination to take flight. Another good thing about this is that there are such wide variety of smart cameras we can choose from within our budget.

Recently when I participated in Shero Trek by Pinkathon, a meeting with Milind Soman, reminded me the days when I was fit and could walk nearly 25-30 km in day. Those were the days when I could carry my daughter Farheena wherever I went. 

Slowly, she became heavier, and I could not do it anymore. Being a special needs child, she could not walk much and I had no heart to leave her behind, so I started taking auto, cab or rides to places I wanted to go. Within few years, I lost my strength to walk long distances. The meeting with the man who promotes fitness, gave me an insight into what I had lost in time and also encouraged and inspired me to get back to fitness. 

Seeing the Sheros created by Pinkathon is an inspiration for people like me to grab what we have lost in time. Is it easy to get back to fitness? I don’t know. I am definitely going to give it try.
Like diamond cuts diamond, the smart gadgets that have made us move away from fitness and healthy lifestyle, can help us get fit as well. Since we lose track of day when immersed in the virtual world of gadgets, keeping track of our activities and exercise we get is going to be the first step towards our fitness goal. Time to spend some bucks on my health now with those geeky  Smart Wearables to save spending it paying hospital bills later. Time to #GetFitWithFlipkart. 

Honestly, I haven’t bought any device, gadget, home appliances, furniture, clothes or groceries from a shop for a long time now. Like nearly half of the Indians, I am addicted to online shopping. These are the days of smart shopping of smart devices which can create space and time in our lives to do what we love to do, rather than wasting our time on those mundane tasks we loathe doing. Especially, when you are living in a city like Bangalore with heavy traffic jams, saving on travels means a lot.
Just 30 years ago, life was so different for me. I don’t even know how many youngsters today can imagine a time when we went to library and spent days scrolling through books for some information we needed. Or, having a telephone laying in one corner, without any screen. 

Today, the gadgets have become a part and parcel of our lives. Rather than being scared of them, let us use them the smart way to live a better and beautiful life.  Let us not succumb to those flashy gadgets and become victims but rather come up with a more efficient way of achieving our goals, whatever those might be through the means of them.

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