FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Life, Death and iPods

The recent wave of iPod thefts in urban areas reached a new and tragic low last week when 15-year-old New Yorker Christopher Rose was stabbed to death when he refused to give up his iPod to a gang of teenagers. In response, Apple CEO Steve Jobs called the grieving family to offer his condolences.

Jobs' call was welcomed by the boy's father, Errol Rose. "He told me that he understood my pain," Rose told the New York Times. "He told me that if there is anything -- anything -- anything he can do, to not be afraid to call him. It really lightened me a bit."

What's striking about this story is the fact that Jobs didn't have to make that call, and the way that, by doing so, Jobs chose to accept a degree of responsibility for a tragedy that was in no way his fault... yet centered around a device and a mystique that he was instrumental in creating and has profited from greatly. How many other executives would have reached out to one of their consumers in this manner, except when prodded to for legal or PR reasons?

The problem, as with our response to all material objects, is the value our society places on them. Reasonable people know that no gadget is worth a human life. But there are plenty of other people who feel otherwise. For that, perhaps we're all a little guilty, especially those of us who embrace and promote the use of technology, and who anoint gadgets like the iPod with titles such as "cool," "trendy," and "must-have." If you don't have one, you're a loser. And to what lenghts will someone go to not be a loser? Sadly, we now know.

In his grief, Error Rose summed it all up best. "We have the technology that can give us the iPod and everything else, but it's not all these things. We have to work on the minds and the hearts... We're failing these kids. We're not loving them the way we're supposed to."

Source: CNN Money