The PostAdvent of Emergent Technology

July 7, 2011 Interpretation, Technology Comments (0) 1044

Here is a nice meta photo of me filming with the already obsolete Flip camera and of course a damn panda

As a student of history, you notice a couple of patterns right away: Things were always better in the past and things today are worse than they have ever been and/or the apocalypse is looming. As a parent, you also notice: kids today are out of control/subject to evil influences/lazy and distracted/succumbing to technology. In both situations the patterns have great agency but limited accuracy.

Memory is a sieve that is generally kind to history. As the full reality falls deeper into the linear past, positives move toward the foreground and negatives slide to the rear, or perhaps more accurately, move into the present as concerns and annoyances. So, yes, history repeats itself, especially in regard to how we appreciate and apprehend history.

But I am more interested today in emergent technologies, those cool things in our virtual and physical world that exhibit the sort of prescience that made 1980s postapocalyptic movies like the Terminator so persuasive. My architect friends have often talked about furnishings and buildings that anticipate our needs and come halfway to meet us in our desire to sit or interact or eat or whatever.

All ages can feed raw meat to this lion – this isn’t in a country run by lawyers worrying about things that haven’t happened ever or yet

So I have been traveling a lot the last few months (duh – see previous posts) and when you do that you become more automatic in your behavior and adjust to the world around you and its current state of emergent technology. So I was somewhere, I don’t remember which country or continent, or whether it was a hotel or a restaurant or an airport but I went into the bathroom and walked up to the sink and waved by hand in front of the faucet and waited for the water to flow. Which it did not. Turns out there were these two knobs or handles or whatever and you needed to physically turn them to get water to come out of the faucet.

You still need to manually fire the crossbow, but it does have a clip of six bolts. Only 15 yuan for 20 shots

Of course, I have ONLY those types of faucet at home, but the comparative ubiquity of automatic faucet technology meant that I had been trained to expect it. So, the interesting part is how the technology changed ME, which is of course what all technologies do, otherwise we would still be using our appendices to digest tree bark.

still can’t figure out the evolutionary benefit of leaning back and eating for hours with your belly exposed

What other emergent habits have I developed to cope with my technological expectations? Certainly opening this laptop everywhere I am to see if I can get a wireless signal. If I was really up to date (like EVERYONE in China) I would have an iPad and do the same thing with smaller biceps.

sorry I don’t have a picture of my biceps.

This also drove my instant behavior, which was to go to Starbucks, not for the coffee (that would be Intelligentsia) but for the WiFi which allows me to post this blog without going home or to work. Which reminds me of the prediction that electronic interconnectivity would make cities unnecessary because people can live wherever they want and of course they want to live in nice idyllic ruralish areas, right?

except in China, I guess

Yes, that prediction was made in the 1840s when a certain painter named Samuel FB Morse invented the telegraph. Ya think FB stood for Facebook?…

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