Can we still march to a different drummer?


Last week I proposed the question about how we will deal with the idea of our lives being “naked.” I’m probably wearing my glass-half-empty hat today, but if I had to guess what the pulse would be around the globe, I would probably say that 85 to 90 percent of the world hasn’t thought about it at all. Another 10 to 14 percent have thought about it but only superficially, not long enough or deeply enough to form an opinion one way or the other. The remaining 2 percent or so, are probably scattered about between excitement and dread. I have no data to support this other than my own secondary research through the media, culture and the arts; academic papers, futurist and forecasting journals, so the pulse I feel may not be at all real. With that disclaimer, I will dissect that scattered about group.

At one end of the scale are those who consider themselves to be “tech savvy”, those who are comfortable accommodating the latest and most advanced technology into their lifestyles  (and I probably have to include myself in that group) calmly, and maybe even eagerly enfold whatever it is either because we think it is just too cool to pass by or because we think it will be a real enhancement to our life. At the other end of the scale are those, (probably deeper thinkers) who look askance at every new development as something just short of reading the supermarket tabloids. They have a “this too shall pass,” approach and a “wait and see” perspective. Eventually they too may adopt the new technology, but by then, it won’t be new anymore, and they will have fully vetted it as either fad or functional. Some of this second group will be motivated by cost, as early-adopters will always pay top dollar for hot technology. Some will be satisfied with whatever level of technology they are currently using and have no time to fuss with new software or user interfaces, or operating systems. This group is probably not worried about being left behind.

Somewhere in the middle of the spectrum are a handful that might are a bit concerned with how ubiquitous it is all becoming and how it is no longer we who are enfolding technology but technology that is enfolding us. For this group, the idea is disconcerting. Now let’s see, where was I? Ah, yes, back to email…

Even the folks at the opposite end of the early adopter scale will eventually come around won’t they? I mean, they really don’t have a choice, do they? When whatever technology they are using decides to quit, it’s not like they can go back to using the old model. If they want to continue using the functionality they are accustomed to they have to buy the newest. That’s how it works, even for those who are not so quick to embrace it all. Maybe no one wants to be left behind, not really.

It looks suspiciously like a race. The destination is final digital convergence of everything we are. That’s not just alarmist Alex Jones stuff. Guys like Ray Kurzweil and companies like Google would love to see us all with non-invasive brain implants that connect directly to the Cloud, and they foresee that day happening before 2050. Hence, in that day we will all be of one mind, interconnected by our thoughts and accessing data, entertainment, virtual reality 24/7. Cool huh? We will be lightning fast, always on, and smart as a whip. That would include, of course, the kind and compassionate along with the scoundrels. If this is all moving too fast for you, keep in mind that it is just a sliver of where science and technology are leading.  Keep in mind that everything else, like biotech, and genetic engineering, and every other aspect of business and commerce, politics and society will be moving at a similar pace. But relax, we’ll adapt, just like we always do.

In a recent interview, Kurzweil may have pinpointed the underlying pressure that we will to bear to adopt the latest and most advanced. “I think human and computer intelligence will be mixed together just as it is now. We have conflicts today between groups of humans that are both enhanced by intelligent technology. A war between a group that used the latest technology and a group of humans who eschewed modern technology would be a very short war.” 1

All those in favor, say “Aye.”

All of this sarcasm has a point. What really motivates us to accept and enfold technology. Is it because we are afraid of being left behind when the rest of the world is doing it? Are we destined to be motivated by fear that our neighbor has an upload port behind her ear and we don’t? What  if the children across the street have brain enhancements that allow them to learn faster and retain more information, should my kids have it, too? It’s time to think about this. It is a possible future.

Next week: How this applies to The Lightstream Chronicles.

1.Segall, Eli. “Futurist Ray Kurzweil Predicts In-body Computers and a Potential War With machines.” Las Vegas Sun 26 Jan. 2013: n. pag. 26 Jan. 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

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