Opinion

CES makes me wonder: Are we tracking our lives more than living them?

The Internet of me: I track, therefore I am

Memoria ergo sum. I track, therefore, I am. 

That seems to be the motto among a growing number of people whose lives are being reduced to an unending ethereal stream of data points. Welcome to life in the Matrix. 

We are constantly plugged in, living in this alternate existence of bits and bytes that define us. Our phones track the places we frequent. We wear bracelets to tell us about our movements – steps, elevation, heart rate. Our scales can tweet; our forks tell us about our food choices. Even the family dog can get in on the tracking. 

This week at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the trend of creating the "quantified self" continued with companies like Swarovski and Griffin helping to integrate it more seamlessly into our lives. Exhibitors were showing bracelets and tie clips, socks and sneakers that track our activities. 

I was looking for kid-focused technology. And I found it a little disturbing that the trend of "self-knowledge through self-tracking" has expanded to become even more of cradle-to-the-grave commitment. 

There were smart pacifiers that send baby's temperature to Mommy's phone. Beds that can tell you if your toddler is tossing and turning and track heart rate and breathing on your tablet. Even activity trackers for kids to join the rest of the family in data collection.

Look, I get the value in having something that's already in the baby's mouth sending the temperature readings to my phone so that I know the medicine is finally helping the fever to come down. I'm sure I'd love to know whether my teenager has been out of bed for an hour. (The Bluetooth-enabled door lock would probably also let me know if she's left the house.)  

Personally, I've been game for much of it. I want robots to help teach the kids how to code, or a watch to be able to tell me where they are and connect us if we get separated. 

It seems I'm spending more time inputting and processing this data than I am putting it to use in the living of my life. I'd rather pop in to see if my son is sleeping well than spend more time looking at a screen. And, frankly, the leap he makes to our bed would probably alert me before an app.

It seems the more connected things get -- this Internet of things -- the more disconnected we become from the actual living of life.  

This trip to CES was the first time I felt less geek and more Luddite, even as I tweeted about my existential crisis of technophilia.

Don't get me wrong. I still love technology and remain avidly connected. But I wonder whether having all this information about ourselves and our loved ones is actually enhancing our lives.

I mean, aren’t we more than just the sum of our data?  

Are you addicted to tracking data? Talk tech with me: @mmaltaisla

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
61°