SILICON VALLEY, CA. – How will high technology impact the life of the average American 20 to 30 years into the future?
And how will our cities, towns, highways, homes and offices become shaped by all of the postmodern gadgets and wizardry?
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Here in California, emerging "green codes" will influence the building of all new commercial and residential structures. Indeed, home buyers and home builders are "going green," since energy costs can be significantly reduced through the harnessing of alternatives like wind and solar power.
Looking back over the past 50 years, future-oriented children's cartoons like "The Jetsons" have become normalized in terms of the technologies we now take for granted. It's uncanny just how accurate "The Jetsons" turned out to be. Take a look here. These days, the younger generations, including millennials and those coming after them ("i-Gen" as I like to call them), now use iPhones, laptops, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other social media with the aplomb of a medieval king tossing aside a drumstick at a Thanksgiving feast. The computers the Pentagon could only dream of in the 1950s are now basic home appliances capable of the most elite industrial espionage.
Any calculator you can buy right now at the local Dollar Store has more computing power than the entire ground and space-based Apollo 11 mission. As one source on the Internet explains: "The iPhone 6's clock is 32,600 times faster than the best Apollo-era computers and could perform instructions 120,000,000 times faster. You wouldn't be wrong in saying an iPhone could be used to guide 120,000,000 Apollo-era spacecraft to the moon, all at the same time."
It is positively mind-boggling the computing power the average person holds in the palm of their hands. GPS wasn't available to the general public until the latter part of the 1990s. Today, because of the commercialization of formerly classified GPS navigation – once reserved for the Pentagon and NASA – Google Maps now directs us around town. Gone are the days of folding and unfolding clumsy, oversized paper maps. We've undergone so many ancillary lifestyle changes due to technology that we don't notice/celebrate them with any great fanfare or clarity.
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More changes are at hand. What are the must-haves in the 21st century in terms of high-tech homebuilding, safety and comfort? Popular Mechanics offers a vision of the future here. Organizing a speedy and anonymous VPN number should be a primary concern. Hidester is another VPN resource to consider. With the NSA storing every kind of data metric available at their spanking new facility in Utah, people will still be seeking some measure of privacy.
This is especially true if your "Smart TV" can actually spy on you. It appears the "tinfoil hat brigade" might be onto something in terms of the violation of our right to privacy. Julian Assange and Mr. Edward Snowden of Russia fame have implied our personal bubbles are anything but anonymous since the advent of the Internet. Many people counter they have nothing to fear if they have nothing to hide. But this is akin to a person who doesn't have much to say not caring about freedom of speech, nor the right to peaceful assembly.
Whether we'll maintain the right to privacy or not within the confines of our own homes is yet to be determined. What we do know for sure is that our castles will have to be heated in the winters and cooled in the summers. Energy is always going to be a primary concern for homebuyers. We all know electric rates are high in most areas of the United States.
There's an old saying on Long Island, "Everybody works for LILCO (the Long Island Lighting Company)" because the rates are so high. In the 1980s, the Shoreham-Wading River Nuclear Power Plant was canceled (thankfully) since Long Island (which, after all, is an island) is not geographically suited for a major public evacuation in case of an archetype Three Mile Island meltdown. This was a harbinger of the changing energy landscape now enveloping us all.
Nuclear power wields great influence in the nation of Japan – similar in its scope to the power the military industrial complex boasts in America. But outside of the true-believers, nuclear power for commercial uses (with the exception of France) might have already seen its best days. As for the future, don't be surprised if cold fusion or a Tesla-like technology emerges. Scientists around the world are working on cold fusion. Who says they won't be able to perfect it?
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With fossil fuels under cultural attack, the polarizing (no pun intended) climate-change issue, as well as the discrediting of the nuclear power industry, the homeowners of the future will increasingly look to solar and wind power to address their energy needs. No matter what type of energy sources you (or your children and grandchildren) may choose, you'll want to have excellent filters. Check out this site at Filter Buy. Changing your filters when needed (as with changing the oil coursing through the engine of your vehicle) is an important element of enhancing performance. Simple repairs and pre-scheduled maintenance will always be with us.
Future breakthroughs in the storage of solar energy will no doubt occur. And they will continue to disrupt the marketplace currently dominated by fossil fuels. Car batteries powered by salt and antifreeze might supplant lithium batteries for use in electric vehicles. There are several black swans at work here. There's the ecological issue – as well as the shame of children laboring in mines for the needed raw materials. We're talking about unimaginable hellholes. The New York Times explains it all here. Supply chain problems will continue to haunt companies like Tesla in terms of procuring lithium. But that's a story for another day.
The future is also beholden to advances is artificial intelligence, or A.I., and other types of "smart" products. These innovations will enable you to "give orders" to your thermostat in an effort to lower the temperature. Or they may even to tell your TV what station you're in the mood to watch. There's no holding back this coming wave. The only way it might be derailed is through a massive EMP event, natural disasters (Katrina, Sandy, Fukushima), something like the Yellowstone "Super Volcano" or nuclear attack. In that case, the Amish will be the new "high technology" providers for the rebuilding of an 18th-century-style, post-apocalyptic society.
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Yet if the 21st century continues its present course, the future of home living, home building, home buying, commuting, work, energy and entertainment will continue to integrate high technology in ways we've only begun to contemplate. Bitcoin and other methods of electronic payments may become the norm. Cash is already on the decline in terms of how people most-often pay for the things they need and desire.
Consider that it's going to be possible to have your refrigerator tell you what items you need to get at the supermarket. Beyond that, you'll probably – one day soon – start shopping by walking into the supermarket (or Home Depot) to pick up what you need and then walk right out of the store without passing through a cashier or other checkpoint. The reason being RFID chips in the items you're "purchasing" will automatically deduct their cost(s) from your bank account. MIT Technology Review explains how such a store is operating in China right now.
Home security will continue to be a concern. Remote sensors, alarms and similar devices have long been a staple of home defense. Optical and hand scans will provide increased protection in the future. Perhaps these types of technological advances will to curb lawlessness in the coming years. Whether they do or don't (again as noted), there's no stopping the revolutionary changes around the corner.
Let's face the facts. Who owned a personal computer before 1984? Remember that famous Super Bowl halftime commercial for Apple's Macintosh? It explained why "1984 won't be like '1984.'" (Watch it here.) The not-so-hidden-meaning was aimed at the fictional totalitarian society long-feared by the novelist and former Burma-based journalist George Orwell. Before the year 1984, computers were the domain of NASA, the Pentagon and nerds sporting thick glasses and pocket protectors. Bill Gates was mocked by the elites at IBM, who asked him, "Exactly who would want to own a personal computer?" Seriously, this actually happened, as adroitly noted in the film, "Pirates of Silicon Valley."
Now let's fast-forward to 1995 – who knew about the Internet before that specific year? Relatively few were aware of the Internet outside of DARPA (with a special shout-out to Al Gore!). Yet between 1995 and 1996, AOL burst onto the scene. Back then, who had heard of Google-Alphabet "X" and its Special Projects Directorate in Mountain View? There were no unlimited Google Images awaiting your perusal, nor the aforementioned Google Maps.
Now, coming full circle, let's look ahead 20 to 30 years into the future. By 2037-2047 A.D., the middle and upper classes in the United States, China, India, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Qatar and similar nations are most likely going to be making use of robots on a personal level. "The Jetsons" will become even more of a postmodern day reality. These household robots will help take care of grandma, order needed medicines, provide security, vacuum, calculate household expenses and a hundred other ordinary tasks we might name.
In effect, A.I. and machine learning will do most of the thinking for us. Of course, these robots will need to be programmed. Human-written scripts are still being used today with A.I. Chatbots. Yet with "machine learning" mainlining as an engineering and industrial discipline, computers and other types of machines like robots will soon be teaching themselves without humans involved in the learning dynamic. This has been referred to as "full-spectrum autonomy." The endgame is safe algorithmic navigation for drones, self-driving cars and consumer robots. Men like South African Elon Musk fear this inevitable paradigm shift, which they claim has been unleashed upon an unsuspecting mankind. Vanity Fair explains it here.
Yet we need not fear the future. Science reigns as a modern quasi-religion whose daily miracles are commonplace. The horse and buggy are long gone. Giant cranes do the work of thousands of men. Drones and satellites adorn the heavens. The Wright Brothers have been replaced by the Concord and F-35. The space shuttle is headed for the Smithsonian instead of celestial orbit.
The Los Angeles Times recently revisited the Apple Super Bowl ad mentioned above. It was directed by none other than Ridley Scott. Read the article here. The ad has been called "the greatest Super Bowl advertisement ever made." That's high praise indeed, especially considering the world-class competition. The ad, starring actress Anya Major, has been deconstructed in an effort to understand the relationship between society, technology and advertising.
According to the Times: "For 33 years, Madison Avenue has been trying to emulate it, match it or outdo it, and failing every time. But trying to recapture the magic of a unique artifact is a mug's game. There can be only one '1984' ad, just as there can be only one Hoover Dam or one Eiffel Tower. Everything else is a copy."
In the future, everyone will be watching their own little screens instead of one giant screen as depicted in the "1984" Super Bowl spot. We humans will still be doing the living and the dying. We'll still be buying and selling, building homes and seeking a better life for our posterity. Technology will be our helper and our companion along this great journey. This is the future that awaits us all. Let us rise to meet the challenge of the postmodern, A.I.-driven world with courage and freedom from fear. The only limits are those that we create in our own minds.
It's simply not possible to un-bite the Apple.