Such a Thing as Too Much Technology

Though I’ve never been in a Tesla, I understand a dashboard controls everything. This includes opening the glovebox or adjusting anything in the car. Controls work through voice commands or with a touchscreen. I must admit, I’m intrigued looking at the sleek handles seamlessly melding with the door. Even opening the car seems high tech and unfamiliar to me. Yet, it also feels like a sign of things that will become familiar, maybe at a faster pace than we would like.

During a cold snap this past winter, I read horror stories about electric vehicle owners. Challenges ranged from super slow charge times to more complicated problems like the controls not working in the sub-zero temperatures. In other words, people couldn’t open the sleek, technology-controlled door handles.

Driving the other day, I contemplated the simple action of reaching over to open my glove box for my emergency sunglasses. It’s tactile and easy to perform. I can reach over without looking, open it, and grab the sunglasses. What if everything in my car was controlled by technology and couldn’t be accessed unless I issued a command? Or touched a screen? Would this be an improvement? In some cases, maybe.

I do enjoy being able to do certain things in the car with voice commands such as calling someone, dictating a message, or changing what I’m listening to. However, these are all new things that became available with advances to phones. It feels natural to me that new things would work differently. But opening the car and the glovebox with a voice command or touch screen instead of a handle? That seems unnecessary. I would also feel a little concerned if anything happened to the computer in the car. Then nothing would work, all at the same time. I might get trapped inside, or locked out.

Sometimes I find the screen in my car annoying. The touch doesn’t always work the first time requiring me to press again. The screen changes based on what I’m looking at and there are a lot of options. Older cars didn’t have this many gizmos. I find it ironic that we talk about “hands-free” driving as less distracting, when really, most of the newer features are distracting by definition. Who says it’s a good idea to listen to messages, call people, and use voice commands for different actions…while you’re driving.

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