Friday, 18 March 2011

We are living in the future: A rant

Fairly frequently listening to people talk or post in online discussions, you run across an attitude you could sum up as

Come on! It's 2000-and-whatever and we don't even have flying cars/hoverboards/whatever yet!

In response, a rant. Profanity is for emphatic purposes only - I assure you the tone of this piece is "cheerfully outraged".

Seriously? Seriously? Are you fucking shitting me?

I'm carrying in my pocket a device smaller than my hand which can record audio, video and static images in high quality, and share them with anyone else in the world. It allows me to speak to people on the other side of the planet instantaneously, receives messages from space that prevent me ever getting lost, anywhere, and can reliably guide me to places I haven't even been before (even showing me a picture of the building, so I know what I'm looking for).

It provides wireless, practically-instantaneous access to the sum total of knowledge we have as a species (as well as all the LOLcats and boobies I could ever want to see), allows me to remotely control computers and devices around me, and can provide an "alternate reality" layer allowing me to peer into any one of hundreds of geographically-relevant virtual worlds that underlies the real one, so I can find businesses, read reviews or find invisible notes people have left attached to locations in the real world.

I can play games on it - in fact, I can emulate entire games systems from my youth at full speed, in software, on a device smaller than one of the controllers of the original console system.

And that's just my fucking phone, right now, today.

Leaving aside mobile computing, and the web, and computers that for $500 can read your fucking mind, looking forward you've got massive advances in genetics, the entire field of proteomics just opening up, private spaceflight (including affordable holidays in space reasonably projected within my lifetime), and that's not to mention practical holography, industrial and consumer nanotech and neuroprosthetics allowing you to extend or augment your own body, mind or consciousness in hitherto-unimagined ways.

Your problem is not that the exciting things still haven't arrived yet - it's that you're so neck fucking deep in exciting things that you've become jaded and stopped even noticing them. We live - to quote Paul Simon - in an age of miracles and wonders, but you're so used to them that they've stopped impressing you.

People like you bitch about the lack of flying cars, blind to the fact that we already have them, but most people are far too stupid, incompetent and distractable to drive safely in two dimensions, on the ground, where there's no risk of a collision causing even survivors to drop hundreds of metres out of the sky and pancake themselves on whatever's beneath them.

You complain about hover-boards, but miss the fact that we live in a society with unprecedented access to information and communication, where anyone can teach themselves practically anything to a high level for free on the internet, this increased access to information and unfettered, geographically-omnipresent, low-barrier-to-entry many:many communication means we're slap-bang in the middle of the biggest social revolution since the fucking printing press (possibly since language), and the public discourse is extending itself outwards and refining itself inwards as we gradually - and for the first time ever - begin to form a truly global consciousness and discourse. Cognition at the whole-species level, if you will.

And people like you bitch about the lack of a floating fucking plank? O_o

We are alive at the single most exciting time in the entire history of the world - not only is technology progressing faster than ever before in human history, but it's also taking less and less time before it's commoditised and even the relatively poor start to feel the benefits.

Put simply, we are living in the future.

How can you possibly be so bored of it already? ಠ_ಠ


Michael said...

preach it brotha.

namekuseijin said...

Awesome indeed.

Case in point: photography. You used to take bad, blurry photos of your trips, then come back, send it for development and take the photos a few days later. Then, whenever came guests to your house, you would show them shots of your trip.

Today you take a photo in crisp high resolution, can adjust light levels and correct colors on the fly and then use some send function which will instantly make it available for all your friends and family members in blogs, mails and whatsoever.

Emo kids these days are much too whiny. Perhaps we should deprive them from XBox and Wii and give them Atari's instead...

Anonymous said...

Everything's amazing and nobody is happy.