I wasn’t just trying to resolve the conflict in Syria in my learning-in- retirement program this term. Just as interesting, and a little scary, was my class on the future of technology. Led by two tech pioneers who worked together forty years ago, we grappled with where we are and where we are going with technology.
The most obvious observation is that we ain’t seen nothing yet. My smart phone has the power of the room-sized computers of my mid-career years, and my guess is I won’t have to charge it every night for much longer. We don’t have much privacy now, and we’ll have to fight to keep what we have. A member of our group showed us that, if you have a G-mail account and go to myactivity.google.com, a map will show you where you have been, not just today, but since the time you got the account, unless you’ve disabled it (or don’t have a smart phone to follow your whereabouts).
If you wonder why the sneakers you looked at, but didn’t buy, on Zappos, appear in your Facebook feed, it’s because Zappos paid $1.00 to have it put there. One dollar isn’t a lot, but if they do it for everyone that visited their site and clicked on a product, that’s a lot of advertising revenue for Facebook or for the middle man who placed it there.
We no longer have to type odd numbers and letters to prove “we are not a robot”. Technology has us doing that with one click.
“Stitching” is a technology that allows you to combine photos of a mass event like the Woman’s March in January, taken by several cameras, into one picture so that a viewer can focus in on a single person in an audience of 100,000 or more to see who was there.
All of these things are now, but what about the future? What about our grandchildren? Will they be disease-free because we can check their genes before they are conceived? Will their success depend on knowing technology or will they be able to succeed with a humanities degree? Will robots replace healthcare workers? Can you love a robot?
I was glad to be able to use my Find Friends app to locate Peter when he was late for dinner the other night. Because it showed him just a block or two away, I didn’t have to worry. On the other hand…