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The inventor of the smartphone apologizes


Mohi Syed | CC0

Dr. Rocco Leonard Martino - published on 01/23/18

"I’m sorry! I apologize for the terrible harm my curiosity has inflicted on humanity."

I’d like to say a few words – two in fact — about my new book. Some of you may think it is about The Coming Technology Tsunami, but that is my old book. The new one will be called Apolgia pro mea curiositos (Apology for my curiosity).

And here are the two words: I’m sorry! I apologize for the terrible harm my curiosity has inflicted on humanity.

First:  My curiosity has created addicts out of all of your children in the use of smartphones. They cannot live without their smartphones. They cannot have a meal without their smartphone by their side. Thank God their teachers are smart enough to prohibit smartphones from coming to the classroom — perhaps maybe we should have our pastors do that for church. Personally, I would like to see them prohibited from coming to the dinner table. But then again, I keep my own smartphone near my plate just as you do, and we are both often interrupted by messages and urgent emails we just have to read and answer. So perhaps we have to be very careful, if we ban our children from bringing their smartphones to the table, lest we realize we need that discipline, ourselves.

Second:  I apologize for the fact that my invention has destroyed conversation between people. You and I have often seen couples and whole groups of youngsters walking down the street texting each other rather than talking. As they sit in the living room, they often text each other rather than carry on a spirited discussion. For this I abjectly ask your pardon. On bended knee, I ask your pardon.

Third:  I beg your pardon for the fact that I have destroyed the health of your children, if not your own. Not all that long ago, if you needed to research information, you needed a ride to the library. If you couldn’t “thumb a ride,” you’d have to walk miles to get there, and spend hours hunting down your answers. Now you merely “thumb it” into your smartphone and allow Google to do all the work for you. So, Google is very healthy but you are rapidly becoming a couch potato.

I am also sorry that your children no longer turn to you with their curious questions, because they are turning to Google. That’s a precious loss.

Fourth: I must apologize for the fact that the index finger on our children and ourselves is becoming ossified pointed in order to better manipulate the touch screen.

Fifth: On the same token I must apologize for the fact that your right arm, if you’re right-handed, or your left arm if you are left-handed, is becoming elongated so that you can hold your cellphone in that hand while you take selfies. And, too, I must apologize for the artificial grin which is always implanted on your face so that you are ready at all times for a selfie.

Yes,  all of this requires your pardon, and more is coming. In 1952, by chance, I discovered something called plasma in shockwaves; at that time I suggested to some German rocket scientists that instead of building something 65 stories high, filling it with explosives, and putting a match to it, we might be more elegant to employ plasma propulsion tied in with the ability to have a rocket ship take off like an airplane and then accelerate into outer space using first turbo jets, then ram jets, and then plasma propulsion. They told me in no uncertain terms that I was a child who didn’t know what he was talking about.

Now, it is going to happen. There is extensive examination of plasma propulsion for extraterrestrial rocketry. The moon excursion trips, and later the Mars colonization trips, that will occur somewhere in the next decades will most certainly use plasma instead of rockets.

The next 10 years are going to be sort of dramatic as I’ve discussed in my old book. In the United States, every home will have a robot. We might even have a robot run for president. As I write, there is an ongoing effort in New Zealand to build a robot meant to run for political office.

Sometime in the next two or three years we’re going to see a series of satellites added to those already in orbit, so that everyone in the world will now be in touch. Can you imagine the disruption to the dinner table when messages can come from any part in the world from at any hour of the day or night? Dinner table? What’s a dinner table?

It is going to happen. The second renaissance is upon us and – please forgive me – there is no stopping it.

And so I ask that you pardon my curiosity — and that you pardon me for exercising that curiosity and creating the smartphone and new aspects of space flight.

And for those of you who will not forgive me, I’m going to announce the start of a new organization dedicated to returning to the old days: Snail mail and smoke signals, foot-travel, and horse-drawn buggies with free manure for the flower beds — all you can use. The club’s first requirement will be the relinquishing of your mobile phone. Ready to sign up?

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