Make a point of visiting us weekly!        Tell a friend about us. Silver Surfer Articles Return to “Silver Surfers”  CONTENTS PAGE Page SEVENTY-FIVE

So, just in case you aren’t clear, this is all about the changing world.  Now bear in mind that many of these things are pure opinions based upon the current state of the world and directions it appears to be taking. Such opinion often comes from ivory towers, because the reality is that none of us have the full picture and very often we base our opinions on the particular quadrant with which we are familiar and that may include listening to other past ‘experts’. As a Brexit watcher, I fear that the experts are frequently wrong and are often skewed in their predictions because of their personal biases. So treat all this lightly for there are certainly elements of truth here but no doubt some mis-judgments – but only time will tell, so if you and I are still around in ten years’ time (and supposing you can still remember this article) when it doesn’t happen, don’t be surprised! So here we go.

So let’s start with the conversations. Quote 1: “I think if you want to guide your children in their education, all of the main traditional subjects are a waste of time except as additional support subjects. In ten years there will hardly be an accountant left on earth, and probably hardly any lawyers either. Everything is going into computers and therefore whatever you do, make it computer based.” Well, that may or may not be an over statement but it is based upon watching trends in financial and legal circles. Quote 2: “If you want to know anything about investing, learn about bit-coins.”  Well, by the number of articles that seem to be appearing in the financial pages of the big papers there is some truth there, although there are those (an increasing body of conspiracy theorists who watch the undermining antics of Russia and China) who suggest that bit-coins are an ‘emperors-new-clothes’ phenomena which may well go bang in the not too distant future.

Slightly changing direction, but still with the subject of the Changing World, let me drop before you some of the cover headings from National Geographic from the last couple of years, each of which speaks about major changes taking place on this world: “This baby will live to be 120”. “Making Robots Human”. “The New Science of the Brain”. “Population 7 billion – how your world will change”. “Gender Revolution”. And if those aren’t bad enough, three that speak about climate changes: “What’s up with the Weather”, “Rising Seas”, and “The Monster Storm.” Somewhere recently I think I’ve also caught sight of major worries about world changing volcano eruptions, as well as shifting tectonic plates that are likely to cause more earthquakes and tsunamis. And you thought the posturing of a certain golden-haired president versus a little chubby faced Korean dictator were bad enough!  This is a time for a strong belief in the afterlife!

And if those changes aren’t designed to give you nightmares, the following list of things that MSN suggest are obsolete will make you decide either a) it is an incredible world we are living in or b) help, get me off this planet quick!  I’ll pick just a few of these ‘obsolete technologies’ rather than give you the whole list. Perhaps their starting comment will give a clue: “Devices that have only one use like calculators, alarm clocks, and digital cameras are being replaced by smartphones. (They also add calculators, alarm clocks, analogue watches, and reference books for the same reason) Phone chargers and headphones with cords are also fading out in favour of wireless models. Paper is going digital, from magazines to maps to regular paperwork.”  For the same reason, paper bills and receipts are going the same way. That’s quite a number of changes to start with. Hard drives and pen-drives they also consigned to the scrap heap with the advent of the ‘cloud’ (until that is well and truly hacked and shown to be insecure!) On the leisure front CDs, DVDs and Blue-ray players are on the way out with streaming taking over. And so the list goes on.

Some would suggest that even this list is out of date with talk of smartphones, which may be subsumed by smart watches which will do everything the smart phone can do, and with the proper development of lasers and holograms that is likely to develop even further, and that is without talking about implants, retinal displays and so on.   

Thirty years ago, the world you and I lived was different without doubt from the world of our childhood but the world of today is vastly different from that of thirty years ago in ways that our grandparents could not even dream of. Whether some of these things turn out to be blind alleys, only time will tell. For instance not long ago, the Times ran an article declaring, “Book shelves are back” with the suggestion that sales of Kindles were falling off while book sales continue to rise. On the other hand, nightmare scenario warnings about AI (artificial intelligence, if you are really living with no more outside contact than Rochford Life!) are coming even from the likes of big brains like Stephen Hawking and makers of such Sci-fi films such as the Matrix series, and similar, are sitting there waiting to say, “I told you so.”

But if you live in Rochford you are probably more concerned about more mundane matters than obsolete technology, with the gossip that the council are permitting more and more houses to be built without any improvement to the infrastructure. But the good news is that if you get a new all-singing and all-dancing smart watch for Christmas, you can sit in the traffic queue and see the extent of the gridlock on your Google-map. What joy! And if it looks like the gridlock will not move for the next couple of hours, then you can stream the latest film. Even more joy!

Many of these things on these lists are not earth shattering and indeed many will make life easier, until some character from one of the ‘stan’s communicates with you and says he has locked you out of the system until you pay him £300. He may even be sitting in the car in front of you in the queue – what possibilities in this brave new world we live in.  Did I hear someone mutter, “Life was a lot simpler seventy years ago!” Yes, but weren’t we still on rationing then? Win some, lose some! Let’s see if I can find some light or significant quotes to finish with as usual.

As technology advances, it reverses the characteristics of every situation again and again. The age of automation is going to be the age of "do it yourself"

Marshall McLuhan

If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, sir, should keep his friendship in a constant repair. Samuel Johnson

The world changes materially. Science makes advances in technology and understanding. But the world of humanity doesn't change. Pierre Schaeffer

One way to think about the magnitude of the changes to come is to think about how you went about your business before powerful Web search engines. You probably wouldn't have imagined that a world of answers would be available to you in under a second. The next set of advances will have an different effect, but similar in magnitude. Tim Berners-Lee (father of the Internet)

Technology gives us power, but it does not and cannot tell us how to use that power. Thanks to technology, we can instantly communicate across the world, but it still doesn't help us know what to say.  Jonathan Sacks

Animals have come to mean so much in our lives. We live in a fragmented and disconnected culture. Politics are ugly, religion is struggling, technology is stressful, and the economy is unfortunate. What's one thing that we have in our lives that we can depend on? A dog or a cat loving us unconditionally, every day, very faithfully. Jon Katz

Return to top of page