Man has a limited biological capacity for change. When this capacity is overwhelmed, the capacity is in future shock. ~ Alvin Toffler
Ok, sure, we are living through a global pandemic, social media and the internet have us on future shock overload, global climate change is an existential crisis come to life. But within all of that we live in incredible times. I often think about the life my grandfather led, he was born in 1919 and died in the year 2000.
He never had a driver’s license and the only time in his life he drove a vehicle was in Europe during WWII. As a kid, telephones and radios were just becoming a normal thing in homes. He lived through the depression, as I mentioned fought in WWII and was in his 50’s when the first man walked on the moon. He lived through the 60’s, the 70’s and even through the beginning of the computer age in the 80’s. Imagine how different his life was as a 10 year-old child, telephones and radios just appearing in his life to living in the 90’s in the age of the internet.
Amazing technology is ubiquitous these days and surrounds us at every waking hour, to the point we see the absolutely amazing as mundane. As a kid I always loved when there were video phones in science fiction movies, where there were computer systems that would set an alarm and wake you with the current weather and the day’s major news. Of course, these were always huge screens, often accompanied by a virtual assistant. Sounds like Siri set my alarm and show me the news. The Jetsons with their flying cars, robots and moving walkways was set in the way, way out future. So sometimes, like I did this week, I encounter something amazing and new and it hits me how utterly amazing this world is that we live in.
While not zipping around the skies we do have flying cars, moving walkways are in every airport, not in the US so much, but in Japan robots are becoming more and more common place. Because of the internet and the process speeds available in something as small as a phone, we have video calls with our friends, can download a full Hollywood movie to our phone in minutes. We have satellite phones to such an amazing degree I once made a call on a 16,000 foot mountain in the Himalayas, one of the most remote spaces on earth. We have self-driving trucks shuttling goods on American roads and self-driving cars that within in a few years will not be uncommon. We have laser eye surgery and because of CRISPR are doing things with gene modification that were in the realm of science fiction a year ago. And rich people can buy a ticket and fly, albeit briefly, into space.
Then of course we can talk about Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence, AI, is doing incredible things and is already ubiquitous in our lives. It is behind all of the algorithms that drive the social media that we all use. It handles many of the automated call trees for customer service, it allows me to make calls while driving by saying, call Rooney. It’s increasingly being used in math and science, AI has solved math problems that seemed unsolvable and has even begun to detect mathematical patterns that humans have been incapable of comprehending. There are predictions that AI, by 2050, will be able to do anything a human mind is capable of doing.
One last note, first a term synesthesia. Synesthesia refers to a condition where someone’s senses effectively get cross wired. So for instance a color could have a taste, or a sound could cause a visual experience. So while scrolling on Twitter yesterday I saw something, there is an AI at wombo.art that will draw and image of your username or anything really, sort of like an AI with synesthesia. Below is what it drew for The Ministry of Happiness, the image at the top is how it drew Rev Kane.
These are absolutely amazing times and given that the rate of technological change is ever increasing, it will be amazing to see what’s still to come in my life time. Happy days my friends. ~ Rev Kane