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Thursday, 8 February 2018

Technological Advancement, An 'Orwellian' Future & Carp Fishing

"all thoughts are chipped, tracked, removed from our minds, harvested countless times inside of the machine" An Extract From An Earth Synthetic By Paul Warren 2018 ©
 
We're living in an age where 'tech' has been embedded into every aspect of our existence, to such a degree that many just can't seem to function without it. Everywhere I turn people are fixated on some kind of device. There's part of me that feels like this was the plan all along, if you can get the worlds population addicted to technology then it can, very easily, be implemented in a way to dictate and control everything we do - we're pretty close to that being the case already. Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware that it has improved so many things within many industries to levels we could only of dreamt of, but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the 'tech' that's marketed towards us - the masses. I feel that it's mainly designed for convenience. It's providing us all with an 'instant' fix, we have the world at our finger tips. If you want music you simply press a button and it's downloaded within seconds. If you want 'take-out' you press a button and your doorbell rings 45 minutes later with your order. Virtually anything you could possibly want is just one click away, very little effort and thought has to go into anything when you've relocated your existence into a virtual reality.

The idea of a 'virtual reality' might sound rather far fetched, but think about it. Most people spend more time on both social media and the internet than they do here in the real world. Creating profiles and 'virtual personas' seems to be of top priority nowadays. Some of us are spending more time creating a reality that doesn't always bare any resemblance to our real lives, than actually living in the here and now. Pictures and images are edited, selfies are doctored and filtered, the mundane is presented in such away that it's made to look like some life changing achievement. Likes, retweets and shares seem to have overtaken the want for basic human interaction and conversation. If you're not careful these types of platforms can create such acute 'self-focus' that you can become totally obsessed with self image. I think some forget that looks will eventually fade and what you're left with then is your 'character' and your 'mind'. 

Developing your mind and your character is a huge part of being human, if you've spent your whole life totally and utterly preoccupied with the way you look, what are you going to do when you just don't think you look good anymore?. Current trends would suggest you then pump your face full of BOTOX, it appears that this has become the new idea of perfect looking. Sorry, but I just don't see it, I feel it's just a distorted, visual representation of the 'said persons' frame of mind. The lines on your face show a map of your life, the imperfections can be unique perfections when looked upon by those that have the ability to see what's below the surface. Part of growing and understanding life is to be able to deal with self change and deterioration. The life you are living now can't be cropped, rehearsed, rewound or buffered, it's what you do in the here and now that counts. As time passes and the years fade, the internet will be littered with thousands upon thousands of digital ghosts, including me and this blog. Will any of it really mean anything to anyone living in the real world, I don't think it will. However, who knows what the 'real world' will look like in the next 100 years.


So this leads me to the question - has this form of technology actually improved our lives?. Like everything, I think it depends on the way that you use it and what you're personally wanting to get out of it. For me all my social platforms are really just an extension of my blog with a little bit of music and drumming thrown in. I feel privileged because a lot of people have connected to me through my angling and my writing, we all share a common interest. I'm very conscious of how much time I spend on it all and if I feel like it's starting to dictate any part of my day, I switch it off. The long and short is, if it's used to stay in touch with friends, family or connect with people that you meet along the way who share a mutual interest, then it can be very beneficial and a pretty pleasant experience. It can also be a life saver for those with disabilities or conditions that don't allow them to get out of the house and socialize. If however you're using it to become some kind of internet celebrity that needs constant validation, who adds thousands upon thousands of people that you don't know, who many, you probably wouldn't get on with in real life, then I think it can be very damaging. I don't believe you can use this type of 'tech' to try and fill a void within your real life.


Moving on to the development of 'artificial intelligence', there's part of me that actually thinks both the internet and social media were initially designed to aid the development of this. This might sound like some kind of conspiracy theory, but lets take a closer look. The internet is being used by literally everyone all over the planet all the time, it never switches off. Every thought and action is being logged and recorded, reactions, emotions, habits, languages, it's all data that can be converted and used. How do we know that it isn't being used and harvested to create 'A.I'. There's no better place to go to collect every single element of the human psyche than the internet. You only have to look around you to see technology is getting closer and closer to us all of the time. We started off with huge computers, eventually they went from taking up a whole room to sitting on a desk top. Phones went from cumbersome great things that could just about make calls, to slim, sleek little devices that can pretty much do what most computers do and more. They contain our lives, our location, our habits, our secrets, the list goes on and on.

It's at this point that technology takes another step closer, possibly its biggest step yet. We now have 'wearables', small gadgets that we can attach to ourselves. These are sold to us in a very clever way, they're designed to help us stay fit and healthy, recording how far we walk or run, telling us how many steps we've taken and how many calories we've burnt, I have no doubt they can also pinpoint your movements and exact location as well. I'm interested to know exactly how safe it actually is to be wearing such devices over a long period. No proper research has been done to test what the effects are to the human body in regards to wireless frequencies and any possible radiation they might emit. So whilst many are using these 'wearables' to stay healthy, they could be damaging themselves in other ways. So whilst we're all distracted with our smart watches, phones and VR headsets, A.I technology takes a step closer still. It's now in our homes, the main example being the 'Amazon Echo'. 

Lets take a closer look at this item, "it's capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audio books, and providing weather, traffic and other real-time information. It can also control several smart devices acting as a home automation hub". It's pretty unreal when you think about it, but to me this is just a softening up tool to get us use to both communicating and living with A.I. On one level this is all obviously very helpful but on another, we're not only now communicating with A.I we're also handing certain responsibilities and tasks over to it, all in the comfort of our own home. So whilst we sit on our sofas in the warm where we can shop, download, project a false reality, stream movies, keep an eye on what everyone else is doing and thinking etc ... A.I and machines are starting to take our jobs. 
 
One example is self service check outs in supermarkets, when I first saw them I though they were pretty useful. I ditched the long cues and sorted my own shopping out. In my local supermarket there are about 15 self service points, in reality that's 15 people that don't have a job anymore. The same can be said for banks, gone are the days of getting in line and waiting for an age to be able to pay a cheque in. Now you simply feed them into a machine, it reads the amount, deposits it and you're good to go, you can do this without even having to look or talk to another person. These are only two examples but other jobs taken over by 'tech' also include switchboard operators, lift operations, film projectionists, bridge and toll collectors, train sales assistants and factory workers, to name but a few. The list goes on and on and I have no doubt that there's more to follow, especially when you take 'driverless' technology and put it in the equation. So where does it all go from here? 

My Vision Of The Future - brace yourselves

I have a pretty grim vision of the future where technology is concerned, I think it will eventually be combined with human consciousness. This is what the whole 'Transhumanist' viewpoint involves. "Transhumanism is the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology". Google & Facebook are two of the main 'players' in the Transhumanist movement. This makes complete sense considering the position they both hold in communication technology. In my mind I have no doubt whatsoever that the next phase will be implanting some form of 'tech' inside of us. This is when I think things are going to get dangerous, I believe it will come in the form of a microchip and it will be sold to us in such a way that it will be almost impossible to refuse. This has already been used on dogs, the next logical step is humans. Only the chip that we'll have will house many more capabilities. I think the initial implant will go in either the hand or the wrist. It will eventually get to the point where everyone will be forced to have one and it will be impossible to exist in the modern age without it.

I believe it will contain all of our information, very similar to our mobile phones. There will be no need for passports or similar 'red tape', you'll simply get scanned as you check in for your flight, transactions will be made by running your hand or wrist over a scanner. This is already the case with both phones and bank cards, forget your PIN number, one swipe and you're done. It's as if you're not actually spending any money, nothing physical changes hands. This is when I think currency will stop being a material item completely. With the introduction of a virtual currency then it will be so much easier to keep track and control of peoples finances. Surveillance will move forward in leaps and bounds, gone are the days of trying to identify criminals by their appearance. Cameras will use the same technology as number plate recognition. Instead of your number plate being recorded, your chip number will be detected and run against a central database that contains all of your details.



Eventually a similar implant will be designed, only this one will have the capabilities to work in unison with our brains. This will enable humans to advance and learn at alarming rates, if you want to master something new then it simply gets downloaded. Practice, study and hard work will be a thing of the past, at a touch of a button you can fly a plane, become a doctor, the sky will literally be the limit. I sense that things will eventually take a very dark turn with half man, half machine type entities. This may sound like something of 'science fiction' but at some stage it's going to become 'science fact', everything is leaning towards this becoming a very real possibility. I think that only the wealthy will be able to afford this technology at first which will increase the divide between rich and poor, even more so than it is today. I know that this is sounding all far fetched and you'll probably thinking I've lost my mind. But this is genuinely the way that I see things going at some point in the years to come. If I'll be alive to see it all implemented, well, that's another story. So let us now move away from my grim 'Orwellian' vision of the future and move on to the lighter subject of fishing 'tech'.

Technology and carp fishing can be a very divisive subject and I feel it's something that isn't going to be resolved anytime soon. I've decided to finally express how I feel about it and I've chosen to keep my mind well and truly open. I've been one of the many anglers to start shouting about the death of our sport through gadgetry and 'tech'. But is it really as bad as all that, I'm starting to think that it isn't. I don't really class myself as a 'purest' when it comes to my fishing, I don't really know what that means. However I feel that there are a series of elements in everything we do that have to be learnt, understood and mastered. I don't believe in short cuts and I certainly don't believe in using technology to 'bypass' or 'replace' any part of the learning process. But I see no real issue with combining or using it to enhance something that has already been learnt and understood.

My Predecessor 'Apparently'
 
Take drumming for instance, was I at all bothered when the drum machine turned up and I had people joking to me that I'd be out of a job in no time. The answer to that was 'NO' drum machines have their place in certain styles of music, especially electronic. I knew that when it came to bands that actually played their instruments they wanted and required the human element within the rhythm. I also never had anything against sample pads or triggers. When these two elements are mixed in with acoustic drums you can create all kinds of crazy layers and FX. Triggers and sample pads used to enhance standard drums made things interesting. However if you use them to cover up an inability or a bad technique then you are kidding yourself. That's not the way to go and that's exactly how I see technology within carp fishing, it's to enhance, not replace.

A Fine Invention

Lets look at bite alarms, when they first came onto the market many considered them cheating. When I first started fishing I actually couldn't afford any, there I was with two cheap bank sticks and a bright orange 45p bobbin attached to my line. I'd be sitting there float fishing with one rod and ledgering with the other. All of a sudden there was an almighty 'TH-WACK', the bobbin would slam against the blank and all hell broke loose. I have very clear memories of what it was like fishing without them. When I eventually got my first set it felt like a luxury. Now I could happily sit by my rods, let my mind wander and go for the occasional 'call of nature' without worrying that a fish might take my bait undetected and proceed to find its way into the closest snag or weed bed.

I personally think that using bite alarms are a sign of responsible angling, if you're fishing long sessions and nights there's just no way that you can sit inches from your rod watching it every second and waiting for something to happen. Bite alarms not only tell you what's going on, they can also tell you what might happen at any moment. A few liners and bleeps could signal that a take is imminent, this is especially important if you're snag fishing. You can hover over the rod with your striking arm at the ready to ensure, that if a take occurs, you're on it as fast as possible. So in regards to cheating, do bite alarms actually catch the fish for you, do they locate where they are and cast your rod out. Clearly not, they simply alert you when you get a take, and from a 'fish safety' point of view, I think that's very important. 'Just remember to turn them off when setting your bobbins'.

Cheating Or Not?

So moving onto an item that seems to inflame many debate, 'Bait Boats'. I don't have any experience in using them, the only contact I've had a fair few times is when someone sails one straight through my swim and then proceeds to drop their rig and bait over my rods. That highlights the main issue for me, the problem isn't the bait boat itself, it's who's operating it and the attitude they have towards everyone else they share the water with. So can using a bait boat be regarded as cheating? I feel there's many answers to this question. If you haven't developed a casting technique and you're using a boat to compensate for the fact that you can't cast, then I don't agree with them. That highlights my earlier point about using technology to bypass learning. However I understand that there are many scenarios where they can be a great help. Firstly if you have a disability that hinders you from being able to cast then they're a invaluable tool and I agree 100% in their application.

There's A Time & A Place

If you're fishing a big pit or the equivalent of an inland ocean, here or somewhere abroad, where the carp stay out the range of the longest cast. Then it makes complete sense to use either a boat or a bait boat to get your rigs out to where the fish are holding. That's not cheating it's just common sense, what's the point in fishing a venue where there's just no chance of getting your baits to where the fish are, that's just a waste of time. However I don't see the point in using one on your standard sized club water or day ticket. What's the point if you can cast comfortably to any spot on the lake? that to me is just pure laziness. Add that in with intruding into other anglers water, and/or placing your bait on spots where it would be, almost impossible to land a fish from. Then I can see exactly why they rub people up the wrong way. There's a time and a place for bait boats and if they're being used responsibly and in the right circumstances, then I have no real issue with them at all.

So now I'd like to move on to a relatively new product known as the 'FishSpy'. To be honest when this first came out on the market I paid absolutely no attention to it whatsoever. The minute I heard that a camera was involved I pretty much switched off. Part of the attraction of angling for me is not knowing what's going on under the surface. Its always been this magical unseen world that continues to fuel my imagination. I'm not interested in a product that allows me to peek into it. As you sit looking out over the water, you can only really dream of what might be happening below the surface and I believe it should stay that way. However, when I started to research this particular piece I was pretty impressed with what it claimed to do. I haven't used one so I'm going on what I've read and watched.

A Marker With A Difference

Fundamentally what we have here is a marker float with a camera, you use it in the exact same way as a standard marker float but it allows you to take a look at the spot you're thinking of fishing. When you really think about it, that's a pretty amazing invention and credit goes to the guys & girls that came up with it. Can this be classed as cheating? again, it all depends who's using it and what they're wanting to achieve. If you're going to be casting this about like a madman hoping that you might be able to find some fish, then I think you're dreaming. The float weights 96 grams, add a 3 - 4 oz lead to that and you're casting one hell of a weight. No fish in their right mind would hang around for long if that comes and lands on their head. However if you're going to use it in the exact same way you would a marker float, with the added extra of being able to take a quick look at what you're fishing over. Then I think it could be a pretty decent edition to your approach. This isn't replacing a skill, it's simply aiding it and, at the same time, it isn't giving to much of the 'secret world' away.
      
Fish-Spy Footage
     
From a curiosity point of view I'd find it pretty interesting to be able to view the spot I'd chosen before casting my rig out. For the first time you're actually getting a visual representation of what you're feeling through the rod blank. This to me could be a real eye opener. The only possible problem I can see arising is if someone wants to try and film fish feeding over their spot or taking their bait. If you're going to leave it out submerged under the water for hours, then I think that's irresponsible. Just say you do manage to film a fish getting caught and it decides to bolt. There's a very high chance it could end up getting tangled in the marker braid, taking the lead and fishspy with it, this could cause all sorts of problems. To conclude, if you understand how to marker a swim with a lead and float and you use the fishspy to have a quick check of your chosen spots. Then it could end up being a very interesting piece of technology.

Love It Or Hate It

So let me move onto the final item and one that has caused all kinds of arguments since its inception. The 'Deeper Pro Plus', when this first came out there was no real middle ground. People either loved the idea or hated it, I totally understand why there was so much negativity. A lot depended on the way many looked at it and how they were planning to use it, for some, it was catering towards the 'instant' generation. As mentioned before, we're living in an instant world. Technology has made us pretty dam lazy, tomorrow just ain't good enough - we want it now with the least effort. So when you take the Deepers fish finder facility into account, it's really not hard to imagine why some are looking upon it as the devil. If we take a moment to move away from the cheating or not cheating debate. Lets look at exactly what it does.

To Sonar Or Not To Sonar

Here we have a castable sonar device that you can connect with wirelessly through an app on your mobile phone. It maps what's below the surface in great detail providing a visual representation of the lake bed. Not only this but it shows you weed, hard spots, soft spots, water temperature and depths, and of course, it has a fish finding facility - however you don't have to have this switched on. When a fish swims under the device it notifies you of the depth it's swimming at from the surface of the water downwards. There's an option to show the fish as raw data or as a symbol, the raw data image can give you an idea of the size of fish. When you remove actual fishing from the equation and just look upon this as a new piece of technology, I personally can't help but be impressed.

But like all the items mentioned in this post, it all depends how you're going to use it and what you're attitude is in regards to those you share the water with. If you're going to turn up to a lake, taking absolutely no notice of those around you and start casting this left, right and center until a fish pops up. Then I think it's not only irresponsible and selfish but it's also pointless, firstly, fish move, and secondly you are learning nothing. You are relying solely on the device, you're ditching watercraft, and in the end I think using it would become a thing of habit. There's a danger that it would end up dictating every session, you'll be spending more time faffing around with it than actually fishing. I personally don't believe the Deeper was designed as a fish detector. In my mind it's an 'overview' item, what I mean by this is, when combined with all the other elements within carp fishing, it's providing you with, just that little bit more information that you couldn't acquire before.

Deeper Display

For example, you can combine the Deeper into your marker work to gain far more useful information. We all know how disruptive casting a float and lead can be. Not only that but 'traditional' marker techniques can only provide you with a limited amount of knowledge. We're acting on a lot of hunches and assumptions. Arriving at a lake and casting the Deeper out a couple of times is not only less intrusive but it's going to provide you with far more insight. Once you've had a few casts and you've spotted some features of interest. You can then get your marker rod out, locate them, get the rod lengths, horizon markers etc, make a note and then you know exactly what you're aiming for on future sessions. If you proceeded to do this in all your favorite swims, it really wouldn't take long to build up a very accurate picture. Once this work has initially been done you wouldn't actually have to use it on 'said-water' again. Applying the Deeper in this way isn't replacing, cheating or bypassing any element of angling, it's simply enhancing it. 

Another scenario, take 'Zigs', if you turn up to a water on a lovely warm day where the carp are in the upper layers or clearly on the surface. Casting a marker float out to get the depth is going to kill the situation before you've even started. A few covert casts with the Deeper would give you the exact depth so you can then target the fish effectively from the get go. In my mind this isn't cheating either, it's just being far more efficient than before, especially if you're a short session angler and you just don't have a great deal of time. So, is the Deeper Pro Plus really cheating? if you're buying this with the mindset to use it just as a fish finder and compensate for your inability to use a marker float or locate carp. I'd say 'yes', you're clearly getting it for completely the wrong reasons. Also if you're buying it in the hope it will shortcut the capture to all the big named fish in your waters, which in turn would get you in all the mags - making you the next amazing ego driven carping celebrity, then I think you're kidding yourself.

Never Bypass The Fundamentals

Without taking the time to learn the fundamentals, you'll only go so far before you've got to go back to the drawing board - there are no short cuts to the learning process. If you're looking to get a Deeper to enhance your understanding of the waters you fish and you use it in edition with all the other disciplines and techniques you've learnt. Then I really don't consider it an issue, it's just enhancing and allowing a greater understanding, and to be honest that can only be a good thing. With all technology it's about using it responsibly and in the right situation, if you want to stick to a traditionalist route then there's nothing stopping you from doing that. If you want to get some of the latest tech to aid you in your quest, then there's nothing wrong with that either. At the end of the day it's all down to personal preference. I'll leave you with one last thought, 'SAT-NAVS' are an amazing invention, they make getting about so much easier but you really should learn how to use an 'A to Z.

   

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