Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rise of The Machines

Technology: Taking us where no man has gone before... 
We all take technology for granted. But what does technology take from us?

Today's world is a wonder of things undreamed of when I was a child. Having grown up in the 1970's, I was a card-carrying member of the Star Wars/Video Game generation. I grew up starry eyed at the wondrous new world that technology would deliver to us.

And that promise was fulfilled. In spades.

Technology ads in the 1970's promised a budding new world of personal music players, home entertainment systems, VCRs (remember this was the 70's) and home computers. Since then, we have grown more demanding, more dependent and more expectant of the technology in today's world. I don't just mean the cell phone awesomeness we all march around with in our pockets. That's just the top layer. No it's the truly amazing stuff we all take for granted that are the underpinnings of technological achievement that we all simply expect that just did not exist in the world even 25 years ago.

Journey with me with for a look at some amazing technologies we all take for granted that are mind-boggling and inch a lot closer to science fiction freakishness than any of us  would care to admit.

1. Cars. Ok, so we don't all drive hover cars like the Jetsons, but we have some cars on the road that are capable of some pretty amazing things. Things like; all electrical powered cars, rear-view cameras or spacial sensors that allow us to know if another vehicle is close. There are even car-to-plane conversion vehicles now. Kit would be so proud!

2. Aircraft. Ok, so it's not Kubrick's  2001 but really–New York to LA in six hours? Didn't it used to take like… 10 months on horseback? Planes are now offering wifi and free Internet access for the duration of the flight. Soon, space plane technology will have us vaulting from LA to Tokyo in 90 minutes. And you were worried about the peanuts being stale…

3. Television. We have access to more than 600 channels and that number grows every year. It wasn't that long ago (inside 30 years) when most major markets offered between 6 to 12 stations–and most of those were local. As if my ADD wasn't already bad enough.

4. Laser Surgery. We can now release tumors, fix the cornea of the eye and even burn cancerous cells through non-invasive laser surgery. Somehow the New You station in Logan's Run doesn't seem so far fetched.

5. Cell phones. One of the greatest communications achievements in the last 40 years is the proliferation of cell phone technology. There is no way to share all the wonders and capabilities that have been brought into our lives by these technological wonders in our pockets, purses and palms. Suffice it to say I can speak to anyone, anywhere and see stuff anywhere on earth via satellite. If you don't think that's cool, then this is your stop. You can get off here.

What's it all mean?

It means we all often take for granted the incredible technology that has embedded itself in our world and our lives. It wasn't that long ago that we had to "dial" a telephone, "turn" a channel or have surgery that included being cut open (I am aware this still goes on but that, too, is changing). My children use terminologies that are outdated like albums or records as they make funny faces at 'gadgets' like the Walkman, Roller Blades or pinball machines–all fairly revolutionary and not THAT old. All while they use Smart Phones, stream videos and "surf" to destinations all over the world via the "web".

The world has become a faster, more hyper-connected, more accessible place. But it wasn't that long ago when surfing meant grabbing a surf board and heading to the beach–not visiting countless web sites.

It feels like there is a really profound point in all of this but for the life of me, I just can't quite tell you what it is. 

I do know however, it all, somehow, makes me just a bit… sad.
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