I like to read anything I can get my hands on, when it comes to predicting technology of the future. I have been doing this since discovering Alvin Toffler’s ground-breaking book Future Shock, decades ago. Since then, I have read several books predicting the future, and so many of the things they talked about in those books have come true. Things like a book in the nineties that said that one day we will be watching TV shows, when we want to watch them! Can you imagine? Or, that someday there will be rockets that can go into space and then come back to earth, and safely land. Wow! Or cars that will drive themselves? Who could believe that?
I was reading an article about the future recently and realized that the future is here right now. That we are living in an age where the things we once only dreamt about are now here. We have devices right now that literally run our house, devices, that allow us to check on our houses from thousands of miles away, that allow us to turn off our lights in our living room in Montana, while we are enjoying a fine meal in a restaurant in New York City.
We have come to expect change for the better because it has been happening so quickly, in the past twenty years, that we are at point of taking things for granted. A well-known comedian does a bit about the fact that all we do is complain about air travel and what a pain it has become, when we should really stop for a minute and realize that in just five hours we are flying coast to coast in a long metal tube, something that would have astounded our grandparents a few generations ago, but we just take it for granted instead complain about the size of the bag of peanuts.
I remember friends coming over to watch the 1975 world series, on my brand-new Magnavox 25-inch color television, and being impressed at the size of the screen, one friend even commenting that it was like being in a movie theater! And now who wants a puny 25-inch television set? Remember when T.V.s were furniture?
Now we would not be surprised if there were, wait a minute, there are one hundred foot and bigger televisions.
Here is what we are we can expect in the future and we are not that excited about:
Going into space: Yes, all of us expect to be able to take a ride into space sometime in our lifetime and are not that impressed anymore.
Robots are going to take over manufacturing, and, of yes, also brain surgery: Yes sure, tell me something that I don’t know…yawn.
Special printers will be able to make anything: Oh, wait we have that already, don’t we?
Our house will automatically adjust to our preferences and needs: Bill Gates already has that, and we are on our way to having it as we speak.
Cars are going to be able to drive themselves: Yeah, yeah, we know that what else do you have?
Sorry, I am boring you, maybe I can come up with a couple you have not heard about:
Your shirt that will do CPR: MIT is working on this right now. The shirt will detect if you are having a heart attack, send emergency alerts, and yes, administer CPR.
Shoes, that diagnose your overall health: Using the nerve endings in your feet, shoes will have sensors to track body weight, heart rate, blood pressure and activity and send data and alerts to your caregivers.
Stem cell patches that will replace damaged heart tissue: The heart cannot regenerate itself after a heart attack, but animal studies with tissue patches, have shown that cells delivered in a premade tissue patch will help grow new cells. A patch therapy using contracting cardiac muscle cells could be available in trials in twelve years.
Your voice will be able to diagnose your health: New technology will sense changes in your voice from tone, to speech patterns, and create a number of brain, muscle, and respiratory health measurements to help identify depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and more.
You will be able to put yourself in your friends into the movies: It’s called hyper-individualizing a movie so that you can put your face and body in the place of the actor and put them on the screen, so that you can be the hero of the movie.
Pretty cool stuff, right? Amazing, but, I must wonder how long it will take us to absorb these new innovations and start taking them for granted. I predict that it will happen by the time you’re done reading this column. It’s only common sense.
By the way the information about new technology comes from that deep scientific journal, The AARP Bulletin!