Last night I was thinking about all the new technology that has developed (not necessarily been invented, but matured) during my lifetime, and what we us it for. The most obvious examples are things like cell phones/smart phones, giant high def TVs, DVRs, portable music players, personal computers, and cameras. What struck me is that they all do the same thing. They’re all just different types of communications devices.
We can message our friends from any where in real time, time-shift our favorite TV shows, video every second of a childhood, and tweet our lunches (along with pics) from a restaurant table. We can carry every song we’ve ever heard in our pockets, put a couple of thousand e-books on our Kindles, and watch hockey games on a screen so clear it exceeds the experience of being at the game.
So clearly we’re very good at sending images and sounds and text through space. What other technology is improving on this same arc?
Looking around my kitchen I see some superficial improvements my grandparents didn’t enjoy. I have a microwave, but let’s face it – that’s a 1940’s discovery. The only difference now is that they’re affordable. I have two coffee pots with microprocessors in them, but they still just make coffee. I haven’t seen any amazing break through in refrigerator technology recently. The center of the kitchen is still the oven, and I don’t think that’s changed much in a few hundred years. I guess what I’m saying is, where’s the replicator?
Cars are much better than they were 50 years ago, but if you think about it 50 years ago you could jump in your car and drive 55 MPH down the highway and show up in a different city a couple of hours later. Today, well, same thing. It’s just more comfortable now. Is there any reason to think this will be much different 50 years from now?
Why have we put so much effort into making it easier to tell each other what we’re doing right now? This generation is leaving a strange legacy.