Nothing stays the same. Trends in technology continue to accelerate. Even if you hold back, you're dragged along at an accelerated pace. It's only a short leap from wearable computers to having them in our head permanently. What does this say about our future?
I think many people, myself included, often fantasize that we can control the pace of technology in our own life. We do that because something about technology offends our sensibilities, so we try to pick and choose. Perhaps the thing that bugs us is a loss of privacy or some kind of dehumanization brought on by computer technology. Or maybe we think it's excessive surveillance.
Those of us who have grown up with the computer revolution since the Apple II are still formally educated in the spirit of the human culture. Great novels. Human aspirations. The sacrifices of parenthood and war. Romance. Remarkable heroes. Walking on the beach in silence and admiring Nature's work.
Superimposed on all these very human things, all during the computer revolution we have experienced a variety of technologies that unnerve us.
- Our computers and smartphones are under assault by hackers who want to steal information from those devices for their own financial gain.
- Google Glass demonstrations unnerve us because it can record 720p video on a moment's notice.
- We give Facebook details of our lives to share with friends, and Facebook uses that information to earn billions of dollars by selling it. Privacy settings are an illusion.
- Soon, our cars will drive us around with the help of GPS and other technologies, and you know what that means—at some point, it'll require a special, hard-to-get permit to have the authority to drive yourself.
It might be possible to slow the pace down in your personal life, but all that means is that you're increasingly ostracized from society, and that means we can feel marginalized. For example, imagine trying to buy something at the Mall in a few years with cash instead of the requisite Internet-enabled smartphone, or applying for a passport without a computer.
And then we hear about people who keep a smartphone on the nightstand, so that they can wake up all through the night and respond to messages. This is why some basic human values about life, work, family and vacation are both under assault and also prized possessions. There's a brisk business in advanced coping mechanisms.
Wearable computing, whether it's implants, Google Glass, or smart watches will accelerate this pace. Here's a glimpse of what Google's Larry Page has in mind for us. "What Google Glass aspires to be." Google in your head will give you everything, but also take away everything. And, no—no one will be able to stem that tide singlehandedly.
Tech News Debris for the Week of August 26
Of course, there is also money to be made countering some of the undesirable trends mentioned above. "How Apple Could Lead the Next Big Tech Trend–Security As A Service."
And there's also money to be made by shifting the emphasis or a clever utilization of some of those technologies for good purposes. "Doctor transmits surgery via Google Glass."
Plus, there's collateral damage to companies that don't keep up with the wave of technology developed by the industry as a whole. "Ballmer: The Good, The Indifferent, The Bad and The Analysis."
And then there's this one, with a title that's absolutely perfect: "Apple's Post-PC Fall begins, Microsoft's doesn't."
Remember when I recently surmised that the history of the human civilization is that when one great mind passes, another soon comes along to succeed -- and surpass it? Here's some interesting insights into one of those minds. "Google’s Larry Page on Why Moon Shots Matter."
After all this frenzy, we arrive at Labor Day. Time for one last walk on the beach.
Beach scene via Shutterstock.