Ever wonder if you're living in the future? Well, you are.
I had one of these moments in a work meeting recently. A somewhat normal off-shoot conversation started when the computer in the conference room started acting up. Someone asked about someone else's phone, as these conversations typically go.
Something something Apple... something something Android...
The Android guy in this conversation turned our attention to the features that he enjoys on his phone.
"The relevant information page [Google Now] is really nice. It shows me websites and stuff that are interesting to me," he said.
"You know how they get that information right?" I ask. "They know what webpages you visit. They know when your Amazon.com packages will arrive because it reads your email and knows your address and follows the tracking number. It knows what you shop for, where you work, where you hang out, what hours you keep at work so that it can give you traffic updates before you leave."
"Yeah, I just give them everything, I don't care; they can have it," he said.
That was when I asked him: "Do you ever wonder if you're living in the future?"
You know what? It's totally true. We're living in this age where your personal information is ubiquitous. Whether that's good or bad, I leave up to you, but it really is kind of crazy to think about how much of your personal stuff is out there. Having that information out there can result in some really cool (or really creepy) things.
When you think about a lot of the science fiction ideas that have been floating around for the past few years, and really look at the technology that we have today, you might realize that, aside from flying cars and so on, that we are living in that future. Targeted ads, retail stores that know when you enter and deliver personalized content and sales to you, automation on unprecedented levels, the list goes on.
Part of the reason for this is that we have 'Present Bias,' which means that we believe that what we want now or what we think is good now is what we will want or think is good in the future. The problem with that line of reasoning is that we change as people, and we will make different decisions in the future than we would make now. Who wouldn't do things differently if they could go back ten or twenty years, knowing what they know now? It's difficult to say who we will be in the future, but we can say who we would be now with some new technology to play with.
When we look into the future, we seem to forget about the time-passing part. Instead of slowly growing into this new world, it's as if present day people are transported there. We see the future as the present magnified. Way better or way worse, different, but still the present.
If this has interested you, this podcast covers it really well, and I found it enlightening: http://youarenotsosmart.com/2014/03/18/yanss-podcast-020-james-burke-and-matt-novak-ponder-the-future-and-why-we-are-terrible-at-predicting-it/