Jun 1, 2007

On the Pace of Technological Change

Years ago I read sociologist Alvin Toffler's tome Future Shock, a condition that he described as "too much change in too short a period of time." While dismissed by some critics after its release in 1970 for its over-generalizations, in some ways the book remains relevant today as a starting point for discussions related to technological change.

In the four-plus decades I have been kicking around this planet, I have seen tremendous changes in the way humans work, live, and interact. While I consider myself to be tech-savvy, I still find times where technological change seems almost surreal.

Take, for example, a lowly check drawn on a checking account. It was quite a novelty just over a decade ago to have an electronic check processing device with which a clerk could punch in account numbers to verify funds. Now, of course, there are readers that allow clerks to instantaneously scan checks, eliminating the need to type numbers.

And when I was at local retailer The Andersons the other day, their check reader even types in all of the relevant information. All the customer has to do is present a signed check, and the machine types in the payee, date, and amount.

No jokes about my refusal to use debit cards, please. You must know by now that the debit card is really the Revelation-predicted Mark of the Beast, right?

I look back with dsbelief at the technological items that have become obsolete in my lifetime: vinyl records, dial telephones, typewriters, slide rules, cassette tapes - the list seems endless.

And I try to look ahead, but the rapid pace of technological change makes it difficult for me to imagine what the world will look like when I am in my eighties (assuming I live that long). All I know for certain is that - barring some population-destroying catastrophe such as a deadly pandemic or nuclear holocaust - we are in for a wild ride.


Lisa Renee said...

I was talking with a friend today about how quickly computer technology has changed in the past ten years.

I don't normally like debit cards either but I do really like my PayPal debit card, there is no fees and it makes it a lot easier to withdrawl money earned from paid postings.


Hooda Thunkit said...

Don't have a debit card either for almost that very same reason Mike.
And after seeing what Las Vegas' money changers are doing with remote facial recognition systems, I have no doubts that remote retinal eye scans are in our very near future.

As for the next waves of technological prophecy, think about these ID capsule implants we use for our pets. Once we start accepting human ID implants, then it will be the time to call this technology the mark of the beast.

At last human life will have become fully commoditized, for the ease of the money lenders and money changers...

Ultimately, the touch of a finger will be all that is needed, or perhaps a glance of the eye towards a scanner. . .

Scary stuff, but all of this is already predictable/possible.