If you were alive and visited a movie theater at any time back in the mid 1980’s, you are surely familiar with the Back to the Future mega movie series. Marty McFly, Emmett “Doc” Brown, Biff, Calvin Klein…are these ringing a bell? This renowned trilogy, both entertaining and thought provoking, was ahead of its time with its time traveling Delorean. Now, while I don’t believe that time travel with an expensive sports car will ever actually happen, it really demonstrates just how much technology changes our lives.
In 1955, the year that Marty and Doc traveled “back to”, things like computers, video games and Walkmans were completely unimaginable. Now, as we approach 2015, things like big PCs, primitive game graphics and cassette tapes are laughable. Even my children have no idea what the expression “you sound like a broken record” means! Euphemisms such as that will eventually render themselves extinct.
Let’s even just go back to the 1990s – we primarily used pagers to stay in touch instead of cell phones (and the cell phones that were on the market were big and relatively expensive); we now had the Discman in place of the Walkman; and the “World Wide Web” was just beginning to evolve. The 1990’s, while a decade of massive technology growth, was still relatively primitive compared to what we have in 2014.
Could any of us have imagined the hyper-connected world we live in today? Where not having a cell phone on your person at every waking moment is seen as highly unusual? Where being able to Facetime, Skype or Lync with anyone, anywhere, anytime is possible? Where there are these bewildering “clouds” that magically store everything for us? Where social media has grossly changed how we communicate and relate forever? A world where teaching young children programming skills is becoming as important as the reading, writing and arithmetic?
I certainly couldn’t have predicted it, and when I think about what the future holds, it’s somewhat engulfing. Driverless cars? Even flying cars? Can you imagine the implications this will have on our lives? No more worries about drinking (or texting/eating/talking/applying makeup) and driving. Can this really happen? The tech gurus say “yes.” And they say “yes” to a lot more – things such as artificial uteruses (what?!), screenless displays (virtual reality), flexible electronics (foldable smart phones…wow), and cryptocurrency (central banking). These could be the realities for my grandchildren…an era where even iPods, tablets and gasoline powered cars might be ancient history; never mind the record player, tube TV and 3D glasses!
Progress in inevitable. We really have no choice but to embrace it and change with the times. I’ll check back in with you all in about 20 years – probably typing on my virtual keyboard in my self-driving car before I float out and use my Hovercraft to fly into my office building (if they even exist then!)