A Northwest Airlines flight overshot its destination in Minneapolis by 150 miles because the pilots were busy on their laptops. The good news, though, is that the plane the pilot was flying on Microsoft Flight Simulator arrived on time while the co-pilot successfully fought off a horde of goblins and leveled up in World of Warcraft.
Usually, not going to Minneapolis is a good thing, but when you have plane full of 144 people and no one paying attention, it could cause some alarm. Now while the TSA is checking our jackets for knives and our shoes for explosives, they can add checking the pilots for ADHD to the list.
But what are pilots doing with laptops anyway? Computers are sort of the antitheses of planes; why physically go someplace when we’re electronically connected all the time? And computers are ever-present now. We’re either seated at a desk at a computer, in a car with a smart phone, or on our couch or in our commercial airline cockpit with a laptop. It’s like we’re addicted to this information and connectivity — odds are you’re looking at a computer screen right now. But have computers made our lives better?
Many would say yes. Now, it is well-known that the main goal of humanity is to become omnipotent, immortal beings of energy with godlike powers to shape the universe. And through computers, we’re now about halfway there. With constant access to Google, we’re all nearly omnipotent. Our online avatars exist as pure energy and could live forever unless someone deletes them. And we’re all able to mold the universe by making stuff up on blogs and changing entries on Wikipedia. In levels of godhood, that’s got to at least put us on par with one of the lesser Greek gods like Nikeus, god of footwear. Seems pretty good.
Then again, it’s worth looking at how life used to be. Now, as early as a thousand years ago, people didn’t have laptops. Back even further, in the hunting and gathering days — the 60s — there were no computers of any kind. At all. The primary method of social networking was drawing pictures on cave walls. So, for instance, if one of the cave dwellers was hunting buffalo, instead of using his cell phone to update his Facebook status to “kilin buf-lo,” he’d go to the cave wall and draw a picture on it of a buffalo next to himself holding a katana or a ball and chain — you know, whatever it was they used to hunt buffalo.