I’m now living in my own future!
I trek on my path into the future; technology engulfs me and wraps around every aspect of my life; information is rampant and inundating. It is fun, but, have I been seduced and become addicted—numbed? Many problems plaguing humanity have been solved, or are being solved, but have other emerged? And then I wonder, do I understand this future life I now live? Am I in control and, am I actually more human? How does technology make me more or less human? How free am I? How can I prepare myself for the future and what can I expect?
As a child, I was a dreamer. Not only at night, I was a day dreamer. In my own world I dreamt of the future, a future where all humanity’s problems would be solved with technology—a sort of salvation by technology. Have you dreamed about or imagined what your future might be like?
I dreamt of space flight, robots, flying cars, the list was long. I let my imagination wander, fuelled by all the futurists writing books, movies and television shows I watched. The future was being painted with promises—a paradise of promises.
Eventually I began waking up. I can remember one particular morning I woke up and shouted in my mind, “This is the future! This is the time when so many of the promises I have been hearing for decades are supposed to be coming true.” Then I thought, “If this is the future I have been waiting for, where is it?” And finally I realized, “This is not the future I had been promised, this is not the future I have been expecting.” I thought more about how the future I am expecting just never seems to arrive. Then I asked myself, “So what does arrive?” I have discovered that the future never arrives, at least not as expected and it always brings baggage.
Welcome to the future—the paradise of promises. Are we living in a paradise? Have promises you heard in the past come true? Are things really better, or are they just different? Have problems of humanity been solved? Have we solved some problems and created others?
Awed and amazed by the technologies around us we slip along the road of time. Look through your numbness. Do you find feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious and frustrated? Has the promise that we would have a lot leisure time as our machines would do all our work, come true? This promise is still alive and kicking, making the rounds as if it is a new concept. The opposite seems the reality.
Where are we now and to where are we sailing into the future on this technological tall ship? On deck the warm breezes and the blue seas are comforting until you go off course, or they suddenly rage. The sounds of a stream are calming and relaxing until the water floods. A forest can be quiet and inspiring, until you no longer know where you are. Watch your step. Observe carefully all around you, yet keep your eyes on the path.
Welcome to the start of a journey—a safari. To safari is to explore, to observe and experience. We are going to learn how to carefully look around, actually see what is happening and ask important questions. You will begin to think deeply and clearly about ways you are impacted by this world of technology and what the future could look like.
Technologies bring us many wonderful solutions to problems and give us some amazing capabilities. Yet, if we peek under the blankets, we find bedbugs hiding in the satin sheets. We want to explore what these bugs are and discover ways to better manage change and the technologies that touch our lives.
Consider the spell checker on your computer. How good are your spelling skills these days? Does being able to spell even matter anymore? Can we learn to see where and how certain technologies, social media for example, are eroding and even robbing us of our humanness and humanity? Who are your real ‘Friends’?
More serious is, how much are we tracked and surveilled? How safe is your personal information? How is your personal information and attention monetized by enormous powerful corporations? Can algorithms and corporations manipulate us? Is the Internet really knowledge at your fingertips?
Experts ask, “What are we gaining, what are we losing and what are we leaving behind?” Are we leaving behind aspects of our humanness and humanity? How does a particular technology make you more or less human? Ask yourself, “Do I really need it, and is this how I want my life to be?” Do you want to change the way a particular technology affects your life and help you to be more human?” Stop and consider some technologies, like E-mail or smartphones, and ask these same questions.
When you eat food that you purchase and possibly cook, you are impacted by many technologies. I argue that the very clothes on your back are technologies. What about language? That one is controversial. From a club to the most advanced of computer technologies, we need to learn how we can be more human in an often dehumanizing world of technology.
Our journey will be difficult work and will require time and effort. The technological world we have created, or allowed to be created, it extremely complex and may be growing out of control. The overwhelming, anxious, even depressing feelings you experience set you off balance, whether you realize it or not. You are not meant to be stuck in anxiety and imbalance. This is dehumanizing. Therefore, it is extremely important to learn how to understand this world of technology and how to be more human.
Please, do not just passively read this book. Engage with it and stop to think deeply about the questions. There’s no rush to finish reading. Talk to other people about the issues and formulate your own conclusions.
We are enchanted, seduced and captivated by technology, swept away in a stream of amazement that becomes an overwhelming torrent of burden. Surrounded by devices that vie for attention, they ask that you give them more of your time.
A smartphone, and other devices, are fascinating, and fun. Does the Internet seem like the window to all human knowledge, connecting us all together in one gigantic community? Look how you are in awe of the capabilities technologies bring into your life. See that you must be aware of and consider the ways technologies change and impact your life. Ask yourself if you are giving up the reins of your humanness and humanity by letting technologies takeover your life? Have you forgotten how to simply relax, think and imagine—letting your mind and spirit wander?
Will technological advancement slow down someday? Is there a ceiling to some aspects of technology, such as the speed of computer processors? What other inhibitors could arise to slow things down? Are you aware of movements toward a more organic lifestyle similar to the movement to organic foods? Would you join such a movement? Can we humans influence and alter the trajectory of technological change? Or will unbridled and unharnessed smart machines bring some unforeseen negative developments, even catastrophic results to humans?
We need to learn to be more intentional with our use of technology and carefully appropriate technology into our lives. To learn how we can redeem and reclaim that which we may have lost, retain and maintain what we have today, and protect our humanness and humanity in the future by being human beings and living in a world of technology.
The last hundred or more years have brought amazing technological change, even wonderful advancements. The past fifty years will pale in comparison to what is on the horizon of the future. Can we discover reasons for having hope for humanity? As long as there is time and a place to exist, the future is always coming. Keep in mind though, The Future Never Arrives… at least not as expected and it always brings baggage.
Expeditions, including safaris, all begin with a Basecamp. The first section of this book, Orientation, contains more about me (your guide) and the journey. You will also gain an overview of some meanings. For example, what do I mean by the term ‘technology’? Your experiences with this book will be more valuable if we are on the same page with these concepts. In the second section, Safari, I will guide you along a short safari. This will lead you to your own safaris as you continue on into the future of your life. The third section, Debrief, is a return to Basecamp for deeper discussions about many important issues involving the impacts of technologies on your life. This book does not propose solutions, although you will definitely come to some conclusions as to what you might do to take action in your own life.
While this book discusses many issues involving technology, the important primary focus to always consider is about being a human being. How can technology help you in being more human? When does technology dehumanize you? How can your life be improved through a better understanding of, and management of, the technologies in your life?
How do technology corporation control and manipulate your life? Can you take back control of your life? How can you be prepared for the future?
We are all hurling as a rocket into the future. Are you in control? Do you have a grasp of what to expect? When the unexpected comes along, what are the options? Can you unpack the baggage? Always remember, The Future Never Arrives—at least not as expected, and it always brings baggage. Be prepared!