Guardian: Denis left home.

Part of Cadillac’s safety features is a service called OnStar.

OnStar Corporation is a subsidiary of General Motors that provides subscription-based communications, in-vehicle security, emergency services, turn-by-turn navigation, and remote diagnostics systems throughout the United States, Canada, China, Mexico, Europe, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Associated with OnStar is its Guardian App which enables families to follow and assist one another during vehicular travel by making available safety features in the palm of your hand with the mobile phone App.

The OnStar Guardian® app* gives your family the key safety services of OnStar — Roadside Assistance,* GPS locator service,* emergency help — even crash detection — anywhere you go. You can share the app with up to seven friends or family members.

Once connected between family members the tracking is automatic, letting one another know when each is coming or going (and even where, illustrated on a map called “Location Visibility“).

This technical wizardry is yet another contribution to communication with people you love and with people you need. No doubt there will be some who object to this informative and possibly invasive tangency.  But for those of us too old to have the pleasure or privilege of nefarious and perhaps lascivious encounters or enterprise it affords a tolerable connection.

This on-going advancement of technology puts me in mind of the miserable rainy Saturday afternoon many years ago when I bought my first desktop computer for $3500. The vendor (who I have reason to believe was hopelessly hungover) told me simply take it home and plug it in. I had no idea of the difference between software and hardware; and, when I finally realised I had to install the WordPerfect software, I descended into complete despair because I hadn’t a clue what I was doing and I thought I had wasted the money. I eventually balanced that expense when I installed the comparatively cheap ($250) Bedford accounting software which, during the market crash of the early 1990s, was my constant preoccupation at the office.  It not only gave me something meaningful to do, I also succeeded to translate what I believe was software intended for the likes of engineers and architects into something passably suitable for a law practice with trust and general banking accounts (though admittedly very rudimentary compared to the industry-specific software which eventually percolated the market).  And then came on-line title insurance, incorporation and my awakening to Apple’s array of high-end products (MacBook, iPhone and iPad). Now we practically have all of that in our cars and more! I haven’t bought a map for years. Nor a CD for that matter.  Who says ashtrays are the only things to disappear from a car?

Occasionally – though certainly now less frequently than historically – one hears dyspeptic rhetoric questioning how far we’ve really come with all these technological improvements. It is a query made slightly relevant when one notes the revival of 33 rpm record albums and cameras with film. Yet while I persist in my collection of Persian rugs (which by the way have been noticeably overtaken by hardwood floors) and baroque music (the modern alternatives are just a matter of choice in my opinion), the beneficial calculation of technological advances is incontrovertible.  Certainly we’ll have to do something about the impolite obsession (by people of all ages, not just youngsters) with our “devices” at table but speaking for myself I cannot say enough by way of recommendation for the laptop computer and the “smart”  phone. Perhaps as an amateur writer the significance of these toys is accentuated and therefore greater than for many others; but quite honestly, as much as I loved my Mont Blanc Diplomat fountain pen, I can bear the deprivation of both writing (and typing for that matter).

My friends, please allow me the honor of introducing you to my much loved Montblanc 149. This is has long been considered the Montblanc to top all Montblancs. This is a Montblanc to Montblancs as the Stradivarius is to violins, the Black Pearl is to ships, the GT 500 is to muscle cars, or the Golden Gate is to bridges. To put it simply, the 149 is the crème de la crème of Meisterstucks. The fame of this pen reaches far and wide. Famous carriers such as Luciano Pavarotti, John F. Kennedy, and Mikhail Gorbachev were only a few of the proud users of this iconic writing instrument. Bottom line, the Diplomat is Montblanc’s flagship pen. Be they Montblanc or made of other brand, if one owns a 149 then it becomes the pen to which all others are compared. In my opinion, it is not until you have experienced the beauty of a 149 that you have arrived.

Naturally I can forgive my late mother and father (who both died beyond 90 years of age) for not embracing modern technology.  Everything they knew and loved by way of daily experience did not include a computer or smart phone. Until very late in life my mother enjoyed preparing outrageously marvellous meals and my father was able to walk his 200-acre property in New Brunswick without an iPhone. Their time unspeakably happy times with their grandchildren required nothing but love and affection.

Speaking to my partner today as we motored about the countryside in pursuit of our narrow focus, I postulated that the feature of technology which I find predominantly endearing is what I summarize as its precision. When examined further upon the point, I explained that to me precision implies the succinctness and simplicity of the binary model. What I like about the binary model is its ineligibility for confusion.  This is not to suggest I haven’t a taste for obfuscation but on the superficial level of presentation and discernibility I heartily embrace the sophistication – not its suavity or urbanity but rather its smoothness. I am quick to note however that in the past this same limitation or qualification provoked on more than one occassion my contary attacks upon the so-called algorithms which insinuated the software. I had no hestitation to contact either the Law Society of Upper Canada (regarding title insurance) or the Government of Ontario (regarding electronic land registry) to point out what were manifest errors of the “system”. Not once upon having done so was I contradicted.  As for the title insurance issue, the insurer agreed to underwrite my objection (contrary to its initial posture); and, regarding the land titles records, the Government adopted my less than mechanical production of the governing documentation. It is no coincidence that the evolution of technology on the ancient art of the practice of law occurred towards the end of my career after having devoted myself for the better part of half a century to the very domains upon which the upstart technologists sought to advance their clever theses. It was over fifty years ago for example that the late Paul Courtice, LL.B. arrogantly suggested upon my arrival in town that “we don’t do things that way in Lanark County” (an attack which subsequently was less heartily embraced by the Superior Court Justice); and, the fine points of my inter vivos trust agreement were to overtake the instinctive reaction of the less arcane Land Titles officer in Toronto.

Though obviously I enjoy rubbing it in, there is a less altruistic motive behind my mention of these trifling historic details.  Currently the rampant kerfuffle surrounds Artificial Intelligence (AI), the putative threat of which I perhaps haughtily regard with a similar measure of abandon. As recently as several days ago my erstwhile physician interrupted his leisurely resort by the sea at his winter residence to forward to me an article from the London Times bemoaning the projected tragedies of AI. The one thing of some certainty and about which most agree is that the legal profession more than any other is to be hit hardest by AI. My synopsis is far and away removed from that convulsion. If the practical experiences of a modest country lawyer count for anything, the fate of the world is not yet imperilled. It is all very well for the prognostics to suggest that AI will consume human intelligence. I am not convinced.  Indeed I adopt instead a sneering glance at the eventuality. Now please excuse me while I check my iPhone and unsubscribe from marketing emails and update my preferences.