Could You Pass The Remote? No Darling. Leave It To Mind Control.
In the 17th century, the chemist Robert Boyle was deemed to have bizarre and overly ambitious ideas in predicting what the world would look like in the 21st century. In a time where even gravity had just been discovered and the manmade indoor light bulb was a fragment of the wildest imaginations, he gave a list of predictions that gradually over 350 years came true.
Predictions include drugs that would enhance imagination, prevent pain, and tempt sleep. The arrival of modern drugs such as LSD, aspirin, paracetamol and sleeping tablets have indeed fulfilled this prediction. Propelled flight, organ transplants and satellite navigation to find longitudes were amongst others, which indeed were all realised in the 21st century; the 1909 headlines being ‘First flight across the channel and England is an island no more’. This 17th century freethinker has proved nothing is unimaginable, and the scope for enhancing technology by making it more accessible, sophisticated and aesthetically pleasing defines the technological market for consumers today. The scope of how far technology can advance; from mind controlled television to watching 3D without glasses, may just be over the horizon.
The question is, with the endless market for the latest technology; is it really doing what it claims to do and be enhancing our lives? Or is it just distracting us from the things that do enhance it? Makes you question if our lives have become so immersed with what’s on that screen and who’s having what for dinner on Facebook, we’re left being more active with our gadgets than we are with each other. But if we’re talking about business-related ventures that use technology and digital marketing such as social media, then the answer is simple, yes, it does enhance it. The shift naturally sways then to the younger generation. Technology is getting more easily accessible, with many youngsters spending good portions of their day gaming or on social network sites. Personality, mannerisms, sense of humour and conversational flow are hardly elements of looking at a screen or getting to the highest level of Donky Kong. Of course enjoying each other’s company is still existent, but perhaps greatly diluted and to an extent lost, in the battle to convince people to press life’s pause button on that Xbox and live life. The irony is when significant portions of youngster’s days are occupied by Facebook and gaming, it disconnects them from reality but tempts them to log back in so they can ‘Stay connected’.
I am not anti-Facebook, I am anti-use-Facebook-too-much-as-a-social-replacement. There is every reason in the world to enjoy life’s pleasures, going out, having a drink. One off indulgent occasions are of course fine, we’re only human and we don’t always do what we know we should; ‘accidentally’ going through a bottle of red (maybe not for the youngsters in question) or convincing yourself going to a friends to do nothing is of far more value than staying in and finishing that project due in two days. But everything has a limit, and knowing when to turn it off in technology, is identical to knowing our boundaries in these other pleasures. Gadgets are useless without humans to use and interact with them. Perhaps these gadgets are a ‘Ying’ to our ‘Yang’, and with a balance they do enhance our lives when used on a personal basis.
Technology over-use aside, the awe inspiring innovation of the modern age’s technology cannot be overlooked, and technology that makes daily life easier, such as the Telephone, has seen development to a monumental scale. The iPhone can do everything from being voice controlled, possessing live TV, Skype, iPod, to a tracking device if you lose your phone or directions. Modern day gadgets are a one stop shop for a person’s everyday needs, and when you have the ability in the palm of your hand to text, email, send a postcard, do your online shopping and tune in to the radio whilst editing on Photoshop, it’s quite clear why it’s such a hit.
Commercial technology is based around the idea of experience, whether it be playing a game or watching a film or the way you operate your phone. As time has passed, technology works on how this experience can be intensified and more realistic than ever; better resolution, 3D, wireless controllers, and headsets that allow someone to play online against their friends from different locations. 4D technology is on the rise, and before long films will no longer be watched. Conceptual ideas are being debated that will imitate real life through being able to hear, touch, taste and feel the panoramic events going on around you. By merging physical, mental and sensory sensation immersive experience is reaching a new height and bridging the gap between real life and the make believe.
Predicting what consumers want is the prime purpose of today’s technological world, and shapes the direction of how it will develop. ‘Cutting edge of technology are attempts to identify patterns of intrinsic appeal to people’, this is the description of Platinum Blue Music Intelligence, a computer software program that is designed to identify patterns in the sound waves of music which make people like it and find catchy. They found there was a trend in a certain cluster of sound waves that produced hit songs, and predicted among others Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ would be a hit.
At the top of their game, Microsoft and Apple are the innovative powerhouses of today’s commercial technology. Bill Gate’s innovative idea of the Xbox Kinect, a hands free game aimed at bringing groups of people together, mainly families and friends, seems to fill a huge gap in the market. Apple’s innovation in using lightweight fibres and thin screens for their MacBook Airs is also hugely popular.
So where do you predict technology going? Debates about the future are vast. Why does a TV have to be square? They could be circle and suspended? Sir David Attenborough once said, “Television is changing rapidly, in 10 or 15 years the type of television you watch will be unrecognisable. People will be seeing programmes in different forms on their iPads on their watches and on the inside of their eyeballs.” Other concept models include see through glass touch keyboards and completely transparent glass phones which occupy the size of a credit card (http://bit.ly/1kxEwDk). Growth in technology promotes the productive idea that the limits of our mind are the limits of our world, which was indeed demonstrated by 17th century chemist Robert Boyle.
Philosophizing about the future is the first step, and science is the great leap to making it practically real. Our mind’s imagination, shown by Robert Boyle of the 17th century, is timeless, the quote ‘what we can conceive we can achieve’ rings true. The millennium is our time and our era, but that does not make it impossible to have realistic ideas about what 2400 will hold and beyond. A website I highly recommend is http://www.ted.com/ where philosophers and thinkers of the future in technology and design come together to spread ideas. Space shuttles to Saturn, super charged Aeroplanes from Britain to Sydney in 7 hours, transparent houses that are opaque from the outside… Technology in the year 2400? How far will your mind take you?