Saturday, June 22, 2024

E-Bikes? Cool New Toy? Illegal Motorcycles? E-Assist For The Elderly? Spawn of Satan Himself? (You Decide)

E-Bikes are here to stay,  This gives me mixed feelings.

We like to ride our "beach cruiser" bikes on the 20+ miles of bucolic bike paths here on our island.  When we first moved here, I rode a lot - making cheesy videos along the way.  But as I get older, I find myself riding less and less.  Perhaps we need to ride more.

In the last 10 years or so, we've seen the rise of the e-bike, from primitive early models to bicycles-with-e-assist, to full-blown roadworthy motorcycles or at least mopeds, with DOT-spec lighting and brakes and whatnot.

I had mixed feelings about them.  They can go fast, and on a bucolic winding bike path, a mini-motorcycle going 25 MPH or more doesn't mix well with children on sidewalk bikes or elderly pedestrians walking their dogs.  On the other hand, so many of our friends gave up on bicycling as they got older, as they no longer had the muscle mass they had in their 40s or 50s.  Past age 50, you body gives up and slowly starts dying.  You can delay the process, but not avoid it entirely.

A friend of ours had two spanking new e-bikes with zero miles on them.  They bought them, but due to balance issues, decided instead to go with three-wheelers (also popular with our age group).  So he says, "I'll let you have 'em - cheap!"

I didn't want to take advantage of a friend, but he insisted on the price and we went to look at them.  Mark always had the idea in the back of his mind that someday, maybe at age 70, an e-bike might be the ticket to continued mobility.  And that makes sense - we see a lot of older folks riding e-bikes, keeping up with their children and grandchildren on conventional bikes.  If not for the e-bike, grandma would have stayed home.

On the other hand, is this another sign of the end times - where we rely more and more on electronic assists to the point where we become fat blobs with no muscle strength?  It is a disturbing thought, as so much of research and technology today is directed at artificial means of enhancing our strength, from muscle assists to entire suits of electronic servos that do everything for you.  Good news for the paralyzed or those with muscular dystrophy.  But eventually these things trickle down to the fit and able, much as the electric shopping carts at Walmart have become fat-mobiles.

The above video is an excerpt from the Pixar movie Wall-E.  In a not-so-distant future, the planet becomes overwhelmed by consumer product trash from the wholesale club, that humans leave for a perpetual space cruise.  Hoverchairs are provided - according to an archived advertisement - as a way for "granny" to join the fun.  But as years go by, everyone ends up in a hoverchair, so obese as to be unable to even walk or get up, if they fall down.  The "Otto-Pilot" a form of AI, merely wants to keep the humans anesthetized and wallowing in a sea of consumerism - perpetually.

People end up spending all their lives in the hoverchair, drinking their meals from "big gulp" cups and staring into virtual screens, wondering what new amusement might distract them for yet another day.  It was all-too-frighteningly-real sixteen years ago.  Since then, this behavior has become normalized.  We wallow in fast-food and sit and watch My 600-lb life and think nothing of 250-lb children or 350-lb teens.  And "screen time"?  It has taken over our lives.

Although maybe this too, shall pass.  I find myself turning away from the false friend that is the phone.  So much of the "content" to day is click-bait and AI-generated.  A recent posting purports to show "rare pink dolphins" which according to actually exist, although they are albino dolphins with a very light pink hue.  The posting - which was quickly taken down - showed shocking pink dolphins which looked like a bad photoshop job.  Clearly AI content. And text content? Almost all AI these days.

The only ones "reading", liking, and commenting on these AI posts are other AI-bots.  You guys go ahead and have an AI-party with each other.  We humans are not really intrigued.  That is the weird thing about AI is that it is really boring and maybe that is one way to spot AI content - the boredom factor.

But getting back to e-bikes, I was hesitant to buy them as I wasn't really in the market even if the price was such a bargain.  I felt like I was one step closer to the hoverchair.  And quite frankly, our regular bikes have been gathering dust as of late.  No point in even keeping them, now.

What's next?  e-Kayaks? We used to call those motorboats.  And yea, they do exist, too!

Pretty soon, I'll be just a brain-in-a-beaker!