Here’s an item from Stanford News Service from last Thursday.
Apparently there was a meeting of the minds (Butler Lampson of Microsoft, Irwin Jacobs of Qualcomm and Vinton Cerf of Google) to discuss the future of the human race. Okay it wasn’t that exactly, they discussed the past and future of technology. But if you’ve been reading this blog at all, you know that those two things are sort of the same in my mind. Anyway, these guys are the real deal when it comes to figuring out the future. Not that Brother Ray isn’t a player, it’s just that these guys are …well, apparently Vinton Cerf actually did invent the Internet, so there you go.
Not a lot of new information in the article. Same ol’ surfboards with Internet capability, cars that drive themselves, and supercomputers giving us the extinction of humanity. Yawn.
What I found interesting was the assertion that the emergence of the Internet was the defining moment in our current culture. I beg to differ. Sure life is different now that we have the Internet, but it was radio and tv that turned us all into couch potatoes in the first place. If it wasn’t for indoor entertainment of the cathode ray variety getting us all addicted, we would never have given personal computers a second notice.
Imagine what life was like before the radio and tv gave us something new to do after dinner. We did the dishes and had hobbies. We went down to the shop and tinkered. We crocheted and knitted. We went for walks and hung out at the park. We socialized and argued. We danced. We smoked funny cigarettes and discussed communism. We had sex.
Then came tv and radio and we discovered the pleasures of sitting and growing obese. That prepared us for the world of virtual surfing. If it hadn’t been for our training to stare at a box with shiny lights for hours on end, when the Internet came along, we would have just laughed instead of embracing it with both arms and spare tire. Who would have spent more than five minutes checking out what amounts to a glorified Yellow Pages? Especially after dinner when our pals were honking the horn out in the drive on the way to a barroom creep. You ever read the telephone book? Yawn.
Because we’ve learned to love looking, it wasn’t much of a leap to learn to love reading especially with all the shiny lights (and don’t forget downloadable porn).
As much as I love the idea of supercomputers superseding humanity, I’m not sure it’s going to happen. The digitization of the world is probably not going to go away, I admit. Certainly the Internet is going to remain; even I love it. Although the Internet has turned us all into intellectuals at the expense of our meat puppet bodies, I believe at some point we’re going to go back to real sex after dinner.
I see signs already. There’s a young man in my neighborhood putting together a scene. He’s got a hookah lounge offering up flavored tobacco and gourmet coffee and conversation in real time. And guess what? You have to be there to participate. Not sure if there’s going to be wifi. Wifi might put a damper on things. To be honest it would a step in the right direction if he refrains from installing 25 tv sets tuned to 25 different sports channels.
It gives me hope. Not that there’s anything wrong with the extinction of humanity at the hands of the supercomputers, mind you. But I’d like to stave it off for a while. Long enough to enjoy a good smoke and some radical conversation at my local lounge. Maybe we’ll invent a new jazz or something. You never know what’ll come of a bunch of people actually seeing each other in the flesh. Scary idea, I know, but sometimes you just need to go out on a limb to move the culture forward.
See you downtown.