Yesterday, while at Chana’s home in her village, we decided to drive to Jerusalem; there were a few things we wanted to get from my house. But it was relatively early in the day… just about the time when there are traffic jams in the city. Chana volunteered to do the driving so that I wouldn’t suffer the tension of traffic. Once we were in the car she informed her smart phone of our intended trip… where we were coming from, and where we wanted to go.
I have a smart phone too. But the only thing I do with it is to call someone, if it’s really important. I’ll turn it on sometimes, so that I can receive calls if I’m expecting someone to call. My phone isn’t always on. I don’t like to be distracted when I’m busy living my life. And when my phone rings, it doesn’t sound like ‘Yesterday’ by the Beatles. It sounds like a phone sounded 30 years ago. And even so, I find it a distraction.
I don’t know how to take advantage of the many applications, and haven’t made any effort to learn. I don’t say that proudly. That’s just the way I am. I have a great admiration for invention and innovation. But I don’t believe that I have to use every tool that’s been designed to aid human beings in their work or play. I know there are more good things in this world than I’ll ever get to know. So I just search for a tool or utensil when I’m trying to do something, and have the feeling that I don’t have the proper means to do the job.
I had heard about Waze because it was invented in Israel, but I had never had the opportunity to use it. And here we were, on the way to Jerusalem, and there was this very pleasant male voice giving us instructions. Chana explained to me that Waze would offer us alternative routes to my home address, and tell us how much time each route would take, thus helping us choose the most desirous route.
It was amazing from the start. This fellow told us when a turn was coming up ahead. In another 100 meters… or in another 400 meters, we would have to turn right. Get in the left lane, he said, because soon we’ll have to turn left. And so he guided us to the city, and through it… till we arrived at my place. When we did arrive, he told us, without any smugness, ‘You have arrived at your destination’. I was flabbergasted.
But, it wasn’t just directions. This virtual guide knew everything. He would warn us if there was a hazard by the side of the road. He even informed us that there were police up ahead, just so we wouldn’t breeze by at two times the speed limit (fat chance in Jerusalem on a busy morning). If there was high density of traffic at a certain point, he would warn us ahead of time, and also adjust the arrival time in consideration.
For three quarters of an hour, I was in an alternative universe. No longer in the familiarity of my hometown in the 21st century, but back in the 50s reading a science fiction novel about what the future had in store for us. Actually witnessing the future… it was romantic… and so perfect.
And when I thought about it, I knew that it was only a matter of time till the computers would take it the next step forward. I could imagine the two of us having coffee in the car, face to face, the air conditioning keeping us in optimal weather… pleasant music in the background, and the car itself being driven by the computer. There’d be less accidents that way. The computer would reroute traffic so as to maintain maximum speed on the road, and we would enjoy the calm and have the opportunity to watch the scenery as we traveled.
For me, it was delightful being a passenger. I could lift my camera as we went through the city, and take a few shots along the way, so as to give you a view of what Jerusalem looks like from the car. Usually, I’m driving. And often I see a sight worthy of recording, but have to stop the car and find a parking spot if I wish to photograph. But not yesterday. I took a few shots through the windscreen of the car. Today you’re on the road with me. The pictures on this post are all from yesterday’s visit to Jerusalem.