Hirhurim has a post about texting on Shabbos where he tries to explain why it is assur. I am certainly not in favor of allowing texting on Shabbos or the use of any electronic device on Shabbos. However, we have a very big problem. Everything is going electronic. Soon it will be very hard to find anything that doesn’t have some kind of electronic sensor on it. If you go to a hotel you can see some of them, for example:
Motion sensors which shut off the lights and air conditioning if there is no movement
Faucets that go on and off based on motion sensors
Toilets with sensors
Household appliances are changing as well. New refrigerators all have sensors that are put into action when you open the door etc. (even if you tape down the light switch). Modern burglar alarms have sensors on the door and register when the door opens even if the alarm is off. There are surveillance cameras everywhere.
The point is that electronics and sensors are becoming ubiquitious, they are going to be everywhere. It will soon reach a point that we will not be able to do anything without causing some reaction in some sensor.
If we just continue saying that electricity/electronics is assur we will either not be able to do anything on Shabbos or have to become Amish. I for one don’t see how a frum person can stay in a hotel in the US on Shabbos based on this.
The question is what will the reaction from the poskim be? RSZA opinion that there really is no issur seems to be very well reasoned and I believe is generally accepted. The question is will anyone have the courage to run with it and say that in the modern world where circumstances have changed we need to allow certain things (like electronic locks, refrigerator sensors etc.) The fact is that in the next 10 years the incandescent light bulb will go the way of the dodo which will remove the only issur doraysa related to electricity. I know that there is a very fine line it is clear that we don't want people using computers, tv's, mp3 players on shabbos, on the other hand we are rapidly reaching a point where we will be unable to do anything on Shabbos in a modern home. The poskim need to come up with some kind of balance, given what is going on in the Jewish world I am not optimistic.