The conscience of tech

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

Remember those innocent days when long-term care was hopelessly tech-phobic, and EHR was just a quick way to tell 911 your facility was under attack by an Emerging Hostile Rodent? (Maybe I made that acronym up, but try Googling “squirrel attack nursing home” to see just how deadly this threat continues to be.)

Today, technology rules our lives — not only professionally and personally, but apparently, now morally.

And as we endure this conscience-compromised political era, that's a good thing.

Take my iPhone's new “Do Not Disturb While Driving" feature. When enabled, it magically senses the car's motion and blocks incoming texts or calls. If I wish to unwisely override, I have to blatantly lie to myself by tapping the “I'm not driving” icon.

Clearly, my iPhone has a conscience, even when I don't — turning what might seem like a trivial, usually harmless act into a moment of moral clarity. Sure, it's sad that we need soulless technology to help us do the right thing, but whatever it takes.

Now perhaps even teens who tune out all parental instruction can make safer choices. “I know, like, everyone else is, like, texting while they, like, drive,” rebellious Sophia might think, “but my iPhone, like, says I shouldn't. So I guess I, like, won't.”

Thankfully, I'm sure long-term care technology will soon include this feature. Unless you select the “I'm not leaving without washing my hands” button on the smart hot water spigot, the restroom door won't unlock.

And your smartphone camera won't even allow eye contact with a resident until you tap the “I'm certainly not violating his/her dignity and privacy by taking a photo without permission and posting it on Instagram” button.

In ethically-challenged times, it's a relief to know we can count on the conscience of our technology. And by the way, I'm not eating a Voodoo maple-bacon donut. At least that's what I told my iPhone.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in Humor Writing in the 2014 American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) awards program.