I have read a few articles lately lamenting the fact that technology progresses so much more slowly than we want it to. There is a humorous book called “Where’s My Jetpack” that expounds on the comical “predictions” of the today’s technologies by futurists, television shows and movies of the mid-twentieth century. Rosie the robotic housekeeper from “The Jetsons”, the Hover Board in “Back to the Future 2”, and even an entire series from 1975 called “Space 1999” were incredibly optimistic, weren’t they?
There are a lot of reasons that these “predictions” are so far out and yet still seem slightly reasonable at the time. Obviously the biggest is the entertainment value of the prediction for a good portion of this. And you would think that an incredible amount of imagination would go into these “predictions”, and it does, but what these so-called visions of the future lack is the same thing that our current visions of the future lack: the VISION.
One of the posts I was reading was on LinkedIn, and it was pointing out that the technology behind phones has remained essentially unchanged “since the 1960s”:
Yes, we’ve added some pretty snazzy new features, like cellular data and VoIP calling. But the underlying infrastructure is, in some ways, much the same. Your fancy iPhone still has a touch-pad dialer for connecting you to the telephone network, and that dialer is basically a digital representation of something that has existed since the 1960s.
The basic point of the article is that the curve for innovation will eventually level out for any technology, and the same thing has happened for the Internet. What is left to make and do? New apps? Faster phones? HTML5? Does any of that matter?
Like I said before, the reason predictions are so far off is the lack of VISION. We base our predictions of future technologies based on current circumstances, and cannot come up with anything outside of that tiny box in which we live. In 1975 NASA was at its cold war prime. It seemed like ALL innovation was coming from space. Doesn’t it make sense that by 1999 we would have a moon base supporting 311 people like in the television show?
Right now our technology focus is all about the Internet, so we instead predict a future where all reality exists inside a computer “Matrix” inhabited by self-aware programs. Our future apocalypse is a natural disaster (global warming aided usually) or zombie-populated (thanks, Ebola!) rather than the totalitarian government ruled one of THX 1138 or 1984 (created in darker political times.) We can’t seem to see beyond our own current innovations’ boundaries to really predict what is coming next.
I think I am supporting this author’s overall point here when I “predict” (uh-oh) that the next big thing will be so out of left-field we don’t even yet have the vision to imagine it. It’s gonna be WAAAYYY out of left-field.
One day we’re going to look back and go “What ever happened to HTML 7? Wasn’t that going to include quantum packet encryption?” all the while watching interactive three-dimensional movies projected directly onto our corneas while riding in our self-driving cars and cursing the custom-auto-created songs being played in our aural implants for being too bass-heavy. Really, that is just me predicting haphazardly based on what I see now, but it’s as good a guess as any.
But I, for one, will welcome our new quark-based self-aware hive-minded n-th dimensional overlords!