Hummingbirds are easily fooled by a cellphone and a prerecorded hummingbird song. At least on a recent Sunday morning, I fooled ones feeding in my backyard.
As I played videos with the hummers chirping away in the background, my local hummers flew over, hovered in front of me and said, “hey, where da other hummers hiding at?” They could hear the clicks and soft chirps that the video was making and they responded.
Here is an example of how a mobile phone⎯an instrument of titanic historical significance in today’s modern world, the object of trillions of dollars worth of commerce⎯is being used to entertain the local hummingbird. It called the birds to me. Just another way the world has integrated the computer and put its digital footprints in our lives.
Miracles of every shape and size take place daily. As I gaze upon this year’s efforts at growing a backyard garden, I realize how much our natural world has become influenced by technology. I wondered about the seeds I used and if they were genetically modified. Or if Monsanto owned the patent on the potatoes I was growing in the corner of my raised veggie box.
Many people think it’s a matter of digging a hole, dropping in some seeds of some starter plants, pouring some water and walking away. That’s how it was for thousands of years. Our ancestors collected the data and passed it down by word of mouth. They shared the results of years of hands-on learning from working in the fields or the gardens of a family or landowner. Now we’ve gone so far beyond simple subsistence, only technical manuals and charts and graphs will do. We eat food grown by factory farms with disease-repellent seeds and pesticides that kill everything in sight EXCEPT the one brand of seed that you must buy to grow a plant of any kind.
One day I’m sure it’s curtains for us as I watch a video of a swarm of drones, attack and end a threat or human being. The next day I’m sure all will be well as I watch an exoskeleton come to life with a disabled human inside of it. This human can now walk, though his legs don’t work. He can stand, though his spine will not support him. He can talk and communicate, as Stephen Hawking did for years, with the movement of his eyes on a computerized communication setup.
Those days make me sure that we will be fine as a species, even grow in so many ways it will be hard to fathom. We will live longer. We will live healthier. We will overcome so many of the diseases and disabilities that are prevalent today. We are already receiving far more accurate diagnoses from programs and algorithms, than from human doctors. And we are just getting started.
The age of computers is no longer an age: it is in fact the foundation of everything in civilization. That includes plants, animals and the androids we will likely become. It will take some getting used to, but we will get used to it. We will have chips inserted into our bodies and we will upload our personalities into computers and on and on. We will reach techno-nirvana, kicking and screaming all the way, but we will get there. If we’re lucky, hummingbirds will be there, too, a sign of how we still reach out to the natural world while creating a techno world that may benefit both humans, animals and the earth. Or not.