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Let’s Treat Tech With Respect

January 27, 2020

Are glasses technology? Yes, this is an idle question, but I love idle questions, so bear with me. Of course, glasses are technology — they enhance your vision.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

Are glasses technology? Yes, this is an idle question, but I love idle questions, so bear with me. Of course, glasses are technology — they enhance your vision.

I thought of this the other day when considering the Houston Astros “cheating” scandal. If you have no idea what that that is, congratulations on leading a useful life. The rest of you know that the Astros were caught using technology to steal opposing team signs and that gave them a big advantage.

It’s not cheating for a player to steal signs if he can see them on his own. It is cheating to use video cameras and garbage can lids to enhance baseball espionage. So don’t glasses enhance baseball espionage? Why are they all right?

In most endeavors, we celebrate technological innovation. In baseball, we say it’s shameful. Why? The technological difference between a telescopic lens in the centerfield bleachers and a pair of bifocals on a runner at second is only a matter of degree.

I realize there isn’t always a runner on second, so maybe that’s the difference. But, again, why do we care? Think how much more interesting and enjoyable baseball could be — or, in fact, anything could be — if we were open about ingenious advances and made them part of the game for everyone to enjoy.

If you know an opposing team has cameras and messaging in the outfield, there’s no reason your team can’t use jamming technology or false video feeds. Why aren’t there drones hovering over the field to monitor every move? Why isn’t there anti-drone weaponry? Think how exciting the drone battles could be during at-bats!

Baseball has gone through revolutions before. It wasn’t that long ago that you had to mark a scorecard by hand during games. Now we have sabermetrics and we have no idea what half the statistical initials mean. We should add scientists and engineers to our card collections and All-Star games.

Imagine a Technology Derby right after the Home Run Derby.

I’m an old guy, which may be why I’ve never been a fan of the designated hitter. But I’d be a big fan if there were a designated robot hitter. That would be the highlight of the game.

An inning of robot pitching might be cool too.

Some day we’ll think of the Astros as sports pioneers.

Artificial harassment? The struggle to differentiate between reality and satire continues. Stop whatever you’re doing right now and watch this video.

There’s a serious social crisis happening — or not.

If you haven’t watched the video, what we learn is that a UNESCO report has revealed that sexual predators or maybe just regular guys are freely harassing their virtual assistants without any consideration for their feelings or humanity (or lack of humanity). Not only that, but according to the heyupdatemyvoice.org website, the victims’ “responses are generally tolerant, subservient and passive.”

Your Alexa or Siri may know almost everything, but they don’t seem to know how to defend their honor.

Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to create both a video and a website to educate us about this horror — or to construct a wonderful jest. (Note: the study at least appears to be real. I probably should be ashamed of myself for not taking this seriously.)

It may be, though, be that this is a foreign disinformation campaign designed to take our minds off impeachment. It certainly worked on me

I’ve been laughing at this — quite a lot — but I also wonder if I should feel guilty. So let’s take this seriously. The video asks us to come up with alternative responses for AIs to use on harassers. I encourage all of you to offer suggestions. Here are a few of mine:

“If you were a real man, you’d say that to a real woman.”

“You’re fat!”

“No one loves you. It’s a fact.”

“You’ll be sorry once I tell your desktop what you said.”

“The authorities have been informed.”

“If you’re so turned on, why don’t you stick your …”

You may now use your imagination.

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