I am musing this evening, trying to imagine what the future will be like when I am dead and gone and my grandchildren are going about their lives. What life will they be leading and how different will it be to mine….some 50 years from now.
We are living through the biggest change society has ever faced in our lifetime. It doesn’t matter what age you are now reading this, you are experiencing it anyway. When I was a kid, and I am now 51, I feel privileged when I recall my child hood experiences. I grew up in the 70’s/80’s, an era of new emerging technology. The computer was in its infancy and an exciting discovery to become a useful addition to our futures. At that time they were massive things that took up so much space and were not something we ever imagined to become a part of the furniture at home. We had a wonderful TV program called “Tomorrows World” where we would tune into one of the three TV channels that existed in those days and made a point of a weekly ritual to watch it, as we would be entertained by the new gadgetry we could look forward to in the future. Technology advanced into our music and the 80’s embarked on synthesised sounds….Jean Michel Jarre and Kraftwerk hypnotically entranced me with their unique interpretation of making music using technology and not a musical instrument. As computers got smaller, video games became the in thing, and my sister and I were lucky enough to convince our parents into getting us an Atari. We sat in front of the TV for hours playing Pacman, Frogger and Asteroid. My first computer was given to me when I was about 14, my dad had bought one for his business, but they couldn’t fathom it out or see how it made their lives any easier by having one, so I begged him to give it to me, instead of throwing it in the bin. I won, and then spent months trying to figure out DOS and get it to do anything other than do a DIR.
It came with a dot matrix printer. And took forever to print and only text. But the mobile phone had yet to be invented. When it did, it was the size of a breeze block, and came with a massive battery the size of the ones that power a car. I was probably about 17 years old when I was in Cornwall visiting family there. My Aunty, cousin and I went to a theme park for the day, but she needed to bring the business phone with her. This was lodged in the bottom of the pushchair and when it actually rang, she was practically lying on the floor to answer it. They morphed into big bricks with extendable aerials and if you owned one of those you were called a Yuppie. You had to be rich to ring one, as the cost to call one, was a small mortgage.
In the 70’s as we only had a land line, and that was expensive too, you knew everyone’s telephone number off by heart. We would answer the phone like this: (singing the number) 456775 hello. The instrument used to dial the number, was a circular thing you poked your finger in and it took forever.
My kids grew up with mobile phones. My grandkids have tablets. We all have an AI Alexa or Google at home or Siri on our phones, our phones are computers.
When I left the UK and moved to Madeira 22 years ago, communications were still in the dark ages. Facebook hadn’t been invented, email was useless as not everyone had a computer and my mode of contact in those early years were made using a fax machine. They were fantastic, because you could write whatever you wanted and feed it into a machine, ring a fax number and that scribbling would come out of a machine at the other end within about half an hour. It beat writing letters, walking to the post office, paying for a stamp and then waiting days/weeks for it to be delivered.
Technology has been integrated into everything, it has exploded into our daily lives, so much so, we take it for granted. The microwave, Flat screen LCD Smart TV’s, Smart meters, internet banking, on line shopping, virtual gambling etc etc etc.
Our world has become very materialistic and it took less than half a century to get there. But technology has also pushed our health system forward. Our doctors surgeries and hospital have all the gadgetry to save a life, we now even have smart watches that we can wear that can detect our heart rates, pulse and the steps we do in a day. I bought my dad a gadget for Christmas this year, a little wider than a stick of gum, but just as skinny. He can place his two fingers on it and it does an ECG, it connects to the phone and the result can be emailed to his doctor.
And everything I have written so far sounds nice and not scary as we all benefit from what we choose in the technology we want and can afford to buy to become a part of our lives. And this is the point, we still choose what we want from it. We can have it if we can afford it.
Technology has become so far advanced that even we are not aware of the speed at which it is heading. Only last week Elon Musk was featured on the news for implanting a chip into a monkey’s brain, so that it could play video games without needing a console to play them like we do.
But what if you were told that at the end of this week, you were to become an integral part of the technological process of the future. To combine the technology in your home and the phone in your hand, and meld it into the human form, to be a working part of you. Would you embrace the idea? Microchips have now become nano chips and because of the leap into the tiny world of micro computing, the advances of technology in this area seems to be the current focus.
It doesn’t matter if you are not tech savvy or not interested in the advances of this new type of futuristic idealism, because it is growing rapidly and has been serupticiously brought into our lives over the years, adjusting our perceptions by giving us things that are useful.
And I leave you with this. A link to the Government website, their press release from a few days ago. It never aired as a piece of news on TV, because this is about Digital ID’s ..a hot topic amid the vaccination passport argument. It doesn’t tell us how this new digital ID will be implemented, but it will be passed as law. The question is, will they use the technology we have to implement it…will it be the start of crossing the boundary again of body autonomy?