With statements like the above, I am reminded of Arthur C. Clarke’s prescient comment from Profiles of the Future (1961). “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Most of us see the magic all around: wearables are gaining traction, homes are becoming smarter. This is the metaverse - that thin layer of unseen tech, like the hands of as Jinn, aiding our lives seamlessly through the Internet. We only have to look across the road to see the future’s horizon. There is the driverless car headed down the highway - its trunk filled with new magic.
Certainly, Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, caused a couple of heads to explode at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland last week ( 1.22.2015) when he was asked about the future of the web.
“I will answer very simply that the Internet will disappear,” Schmidt said.
According to CNET, the Google executive later clarified. “It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.”
In very short order, we have seen the magic: the world-wide web collapsing time and space. We can be connected with anyone in the world, no matter the distance or time of day. We have seen incredible positive transformation, especially in the way we can collaborate across the globe, 24/7.
Yet, every time we send a text, we are rewarded by a drop of dopamine, “the pleasure drug”. We are becoming more and more addicted to our tech habits — whether child, teen, or adult.
The Director of MIT’s Center for Self and technology, Sherry Turkle, has completed big-idea research, illustrating that we actually prefer a screen filter to actual one-on-one, face-to-face human interaction. “We are losing the raw human part of being with each other,” she said.
It’s going to be harder and harder to “unplug”, to take the “day off from tech” when our wearables are wired and our cars know the way better than we do.
I simply hope that the future contains the balance between humanity and tech – the middle ground, or as the Greeks used to say, the “Golden Mean”. I hope that the greatest trick of all does not become our awkward, silly, brilliant, messy, humanity vanishing into the magic hat of tomorrow’s technology.