It’s always been a comfort to me knowing that God knows everything about me. Omniscience and omnipresence has been a hallmark of most religions. God knows when you come and when you go, as Psalm 139 in the Bible says, and when you stand up and when you sit down. He knows what you had for breakfast and how much laundry detergent you use. Soon, God won’t be the only one to know these things about you. Everything else will too.
About 150,000 people descended on the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, held last week in Las Vegas. This was where manufacturers displayed their wares for other manufacturers. It’s a kind of window into the near future. There were new gadgets such as ultra HD television with four times the pixels of standard HDTV, bendable phones, smart watches, more in mobile gaming, still more in 3D glasses, and even more yet in everything else. The big trend has been that computers are making their way into everyday products. Things like refrigerators, washers, dryers, microwaves, and toasters aren’t too surprising. I remember back in college tearing into my roommates stereo thinking I would fix it. To my frustration, inside was just one big fat microprocessor. I couldn‘t touch a thing.
Computers have been used in everything from cars to stereos for a long time. What’s new is that everything is being connected to the web. With your laundry machine not only computerized, but also talking, advertisers will learn something about what you wash and how often you wash it. They’ll know if you have young children at home, for instance, because you’re laundering clothes every day. Or perhaps you’re a bachelor like me and let clothes pile up for two months until you cram them all into the machine at once. Displays on your washer might flash a new flavor of Gerber baby food or an ad for eHarmony. The pizza setting on your microwave might give you a deal on Dominoes or warn you about the dangers of saturated fat. our water purifier might tell you all the benefits of Aquafina bottled water. There are even ice cubes to track how much you drink.
Soon, your clothing will have flexible microprocessors woven right into the material. Your coat will know you went to 49 Degrees North last weekend and offer you reduced tickets to Silver Mountain instead, and your shirt will track that you frequent Walmart and tell you about that great deal on Skippy peanut butter in aisle 12. The obvious problems are the privacy concerns. Although I listed a few examples above, I’m sure you can think of things you wouldn’t want to show up in somebody‘s databank. And what’s digital is immortal. Who knows where your private info might wind up in ten years?
Yeah, it’s always been a comfort to me that God knows everything about me, but I’m not sure I feel the same about my blue jeans.