We are in the middle of the most profound period of technological driven change in man’s history. Like the proverbial frogs in the slowing warming pan of water it is hard though to fully appreciate the scale and nature of this change. Check out this little exercise – remembering what life was like when I was my son’s current age (11), what life is like today, and imagining what life will be like when he is my current age (51) – and let me know whether you think my POV is OTT.
Scene One: When I was Noah’s age (11) …
We had one telephone in the house. It was by the front door in the chilly hall. It had a 4 foot long wire connecting it to the wall. It was expensive, so my Dad said; every time anyone used it he shouted at them “hurry up and get off that phone, it’s costing a fortune”.
We had one black and white TV in the house. There were three channels. My Mum and Dad got up from their chairs to change channels (occasionally). Most of the time they chose what channels the family would watch.
The news was on at 9 o’clock every evening. We all watched it. Together.
The TV showed one live game of football every year, the FA Cup Final. We all watched it. Together.
We had one car. Every morning, 10 minutes before we had to leave for school, my Dad would go outside and turn the car on. Sometimes it would start. Sometimes it wouldn’t. When it didn’t start my Dad didn’t really know why it wasn’t starting. He’d keep trying it and most mornings eventually it would start. Some mornings it wouldn’t start at all and he’d have to use the expensive telephone to call one of our friends to ask for a lift.
My Dad didn’t like driving it; often he’d get lost if we had to go somewhere new.
We had one radio. Most of the time it had on BBC Radio 4. As a treat it would sometimes be tuned to Radio 2. But not for long.
The electricity would be turned off – by the government – two or three evenings a week. The miners were on strike and there wasn’t enough electricity to go around.
Every morning in the winter my Ma would dry the condensation off the bedroom windows before we got up, in our sub-zero rooms.
Every Sunday my Dad would have a bath.
Every Friday my Ma would hang the washing out on the line in the garden.
At Christmas we would have a coal fire once or twice.
We’d also go for a family meal in a restaurant.
Every month or so, on a Saturday morning, I’d go to the pictures to see a kids film.
In the summer the six of us (Ma, Dad, 3 boys, and a dog) would get in the temperamental small car and drive the 500 miles to a caravan in Scotland for our annual holiday.
Most evenings my brothers and I would play ping pong on a home-made (not full size) table in the (unheated) garage.
1974. Britain. The upper middle class. The sophisticated modern world in the former-greatest-country- in-the-world-and-still-quite-good-even-though-we-all-knew-or-suspected-that-the-“Great”-part-was-a- tad-embarrassing-now.
Scene Two: Noah is 11, I am 51
We have four iPhones. Vonage. Skype. ooVoo. The Vonage phone has a wire into the wall (for power). We don’t use it very much.
We have three flat screen TVs in three different parts of the house. My wife watches her shows in one room. I watch mine in another room. Noah watches his shows in another. My daughter Clemmie watches Netflix on her computer.
The news is on 24/7. Nobody really watches it.
We have four computers and two iPads.
We have Xbox and Wii.
Every English Premier League game is shown live. In Color. In HD. Every La Liga, SerieA, Bundesliga, MLS game too. I watch a lot of them. Noah watches quite a few too but mainly highlights via SportsCenter on his iPad. He has to get back to Minecraft.
We have two cars. The “big” car has a TV, satellite radio, GPS, eight seats. Heated seats. Room for the dog. Bluetooth hands free phone speakers. On board music library. It starts every time. We never get lost. The little car is a soft top. It has a GPS and satellite radio too. It also starts every time.
We have Sonos speakers in four rooms. We all listen to different music in different rooms. Radio 4 is on in the kitchen most of the time.
At night we leave the lights on in the kitchen so our dog doesn’t get scared.
Every morning the heating comes on, on a timer, before we get up.
Every morning, and sometimes every evening, I take a shower or have a bath. Everyone else does too.
In the winter we have wood fires (in the two fireplaces) most of the time.
We eat out two or three times a week.
We watch (between us, often separately) four or five movies a week.
In the winter we go to the Caribbean for a week’s vacation. Last summer we went to the Rockies for two weeks. In a caravan. Well, an RV.
Most evenings I play ping pong with Noah on a full size table in our heated 500sqft family room.
2014. America. The upper middle class. The sophisticated modern world in the former-greatest-country-in-the-world-and-still-quite-good-even-though-we-all-know-or-suspect-that-the-“USA #1”-part-is-a-tad-embarrassing-now.
Scene Three: Noah is 51, I am 91
I have an iPlant. Noah’s family does too. When I think “Call Noah” I can talk to him anytime I want via the Apple sensor just behind my ear.
My wife and I’s apartment has Gorilla Glass walls in each room. I enjoy the Full Emersion mode when I watch the European Premier League games most nights. I like to choose the “Director’s Box” seats but sometimes I’ll chose the “Pre-Taylor Report Stratford Road End Standing” option just to remember what it was like when I used to go to Old Trafford as a student in the early 1980’s. Other nights I like to watch old movies like “Her” and laugh at how wrong they got the future. Or maybe Stephen Colbert on the Late Show. Maybe I’ll ask for CNN but its “News on the Minute” is always way behind TwitFace, which I get through my RayeBayBans. My wife still likes American i-Dull. She watches that mainly on her Warby Netflix Parker Spex on the deck.
We don’t have a car. When we need one we can just think “Car” and Google sends one along. I haven’t actually driven a car – manually – since 2030. I can watch anything I want in the car on the windows as we ride along. The AlgoDriver knows where we want to go from our Gmail calendar. Mostly I like to watch YouTube videos of classical music like Kind of Blue or Armed Forces, those sorts of things.
I like Radio 4 on all over the apartment. I’ve forgotten how many Dr Sonos speakers there are scattered around the place now; I think Noah said it was over 100. My wife can turn on a blocking frequency (from her Spex) if she doesn’t want to listen.
When did our dog die? A long time ago. Sometimes it’s nice to have his hologram in his bed for old times’ sake. I tell the lights to go on so he doesn’t get scared.
Every morning the heating and the lighting (and my Ma’s 1974 Globlin Teasmaid) comes on, on a timer, before we get up. Nest sends in Gloria (the AlgoMaid) and Florence (the AlgoNurse) as well.
Every morning, and sometimes every evening, I use our Canyon Ranch EpidermiSpa.
In the winter we have wood fires on the Glass in whichever room we’re in, most of the time.
The Amazon Dinner Drone brings us our main meal every night. It tells Nest what time to open the window.
I watch four or five movies a day. Sometimes I like to put my Disney Cameron Avatar into them. It’s fun being in the back of 007’s Aston Martin as he’s being chased by Dr No. Although it’s pricey, I think it’s worth the MSonyM subscription to do it.
In the winter we go to the Caribbean for a week’s vacation with Noah and his family. He keeps telling me that I’m well enough to actually go in person like my wife does rather than via MicroSkype’s Hologram … but I’m not sure. (He says my HealthBook readings look good from his wrist band). The travel would screw up my running schedule. My 40th Boston Marathon (run on my new Matrix F1000 treadmill) is coming up soon.
Most evenings I play ping pong with Noah on a full size table Holotable.
2054. Italy. The upper middle class. The sophisticated modern world in the former-greatest-country-in-the-world-and-still-quite-good-even-though-we-all-know-or-suspect-that-the-“Grande-Ancora”-part-is-a-tad-embarrassing-now.