Conditions used to change slowly, with major developments spanning years or even decades. And each time a significant shift was greeted with astonishment. Those of you old enough to remember, do you recall how stunning it was to have your first tiny screen black and white TV or your first desktop computer with no internal hard drive? We were transfixed because they represented huge steps up in our daily lives that we had never imagined.
That has changed, because of the speed at which advances now occur. It’s normal to expect major shifts on an almost daily basis. Some upgrade their phones and computers every year or two because they want the “latest technology.” With some reason, because the technology has changed significantly in that short time period. Major advance is now typical, so we are no longer awed by it. The young know nothing else.
I think we’ve lost something when we cannot experience the thrill and excitement that come with the unexpected new. Because much of it still is truly remarkable. Here are a few things I think deserve amazement if we took the time to think about them. I’m sure I could come up with many more examples and you could add to the list. I’d love to hear about what stuns you.
I get annoying messages from my computer asking if I want an update to be installed during the night. I am sure millions of others receive the same message and many of our computers are updated at roughly, but not exactly, the same time, usually without mishap. What must it take to ensure we all get our update successfully?
What about speech recognition? Now when phoning a business or medical facility we can put the keypad away and simply state what we want in order to be misinterpreted and sent on the wrong path without human aid. Still as annoying as ever, but I find the execution brilliant. Apple lovers have Siri who once told me, after I had called her an idiot for not properly dealing with my request, “That’s not very nice.”
Google searches are almost unbelievable. In less than a second you get access to thousands or even millions of possible hits. Despite the fact most of them seem to elude your desires, it’s still an outstanding technical achievement.
Cell phones and untold other devices, including cars, use chips that in the tiniest of spaces hold millions, even billions, of components and allow us the digital life in which we seem to be embedded. How much time do we spend considering those breathtaking pieces of equipment?
We tend not to think about health care until we need it. But the advances, many life-saving, come fast and furious, much speedier than occurred during the centuries following the time when illness demanded the availability of leaches to carry out a bleeding that did more damage than good.
Not all advances are positive, but so many are amazing. I think it’s worthwhile to contemplate the brilliance of the ideas behind them instead of just being a placid user and expecting the innovations to keep rolling out.
Look around and be amazed, even if you don’t like what you see.