There are several things that amaze me about today's high-technology, including the fact that it's so pervasive and it sneaks up on you while you aren't looking. The result is that you end up using all sorts of cool things and you forget what life was like without them.
Now, I know there are a lot of young people who don’t actually remember a time before the Internet, but even those of us who are older tend to forget the way things were. When I was a kid, for example, we had one small black-and-white television whose main display was a cathode ray tube and whose electronics was vacuum tube-based. I would never have dreamed of having high-definition color televisions in just about every room of my house as I do now.
We also had one black dial telephone wired into the wall in the hallway. I had to ask my parents' permission to make a call. I would never have conceived of a world in which everyone -- including young kids -- strolls around carrying smartphones that can take pictures and videos, send emails, run apps, and show locations using GPS.
What about computers? When I was a student in the UK the late 1970s, there was an advert in the Practical Electronics hobbyist magazine for a single-board computer boasting an 8-bit microprocessor, a hex keypad, a smattering of 7-segment displays, 1 Kbyte of RAM, and 1 Kbyte of ROM… and it was way more than I could possibly afford. At that time, I never thought I would ever own my own computer. Now I'm surrounded by the little scamps (as I pen this column, I'm facing a wall of four 28-inch monitors).
The reason I'm waffling on about this is that so many things that were considered to be in the realm of science fiction in the not-so-distant past are now taken for granted. But the really strange thing is that, when most of us see or hear about something that doesn’t exist yet, we still think of it as still being in the realm of science fiction or -- at best -- being in the far distant future.
If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times… the future is closer than you think. As one example, how about a techno-telepathic, non-invasive brain-to-brain interface in which one person thinks about pressing the fire button on a computer game. This brain signal is detected and transmitted across the Internet to a second person whose finger moves in response. Science fiction, you say? Well, not according to this article from the University of Washington.
How about mind-reading? This is, of course, an old staple of science fiction, but surely it's not possible… or is it?
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