The Wonders Of Uncertainty

As technology advances, it gets more precise and more accurate. This precision can be life-saving, in the case of medical technology. It can make time-keeping far more advanced, as in the case of atomic clocks. But this surgical level of precision is not needed everywhere. In a lot of cases it just ends up causing more harm than good. Take smartphone battery levels for example.

Many of the newer smartphones can display a battery percentage next to or instead of the ubiquitous battery level icon. While seemingly useful, this is a feature that ends up causing far more stress and anxiety rather than helping. I used to always have the battery percentage displayed, and I remember always worrying about the battery. I’d then waste time trying to “save” the battery by installing task managers and such (which ironically enough just made the battery life worse). I ended up always bringing my charger with me, like an obsessive lunatic. After almost a year of worrying about the battery levels, I turned the percentages off and just went back to the old battery icon. Sweet relief. I found myself caring less and less about the exact charge of the battery, and that made my life just a bit easier.

While my example is essentially a spoiled, “first-world problem,” this idea can be applied to the more important aspects of life. Take time as an example, we all live by it and are bound by it. We hustle and bustle trying to get everywhere “on time.” Just imagine how much collective stress and pressure there is on an average work day to get to work on time. Now imagine if we all just did what I did with the smartphone, and turned off the exact numbers. Just have a watch with only one hand and no numbers. Suddenly there would be no reason to worry about being late by a few minutes; everybody would calm down a little and be happier. Of course, in the real world this concept would never be practical and would initially cause more problems than it’s worth. Hence the reason it is merely a concept.

However, it can be applied successfully on a large scale in some cases. Chances are, you’re browsing this on Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox. Notice how they’ve removed the once universal loading bar, replaced by a compact progress spinner. The uncertainty concept works pretty well for this, as there is no need for the common user to see the exact progress of loading a web page (of course developers need to know, but there are plugins for that). In conclusion, uncertainty can be a beautiful thing sometimes, you don’t always need to know exactly what’s going on.

Posted in General, Life, Technology