Tuesday, February 6, 2007

A Thousand Possibilities.....

....means fewer choices.

There is this concept that is coming called the ‘singularity’. Like a freight train barreling down on you in a tunnel, it is almost here. However, I don’t know if the visionaries of the future have really taken into account the marketing and the media regarding this whole issue.

There is this theme that I keep running up against in my journey through life. At first I didn't see all the connections, but they are becoming more and more obvious as time goes by. There is this connection between what we are told to want and what we actually end up getting. This connection can be manipulated. There are puppeteers out there....and we aren't always the ones pulling the strings.

The singularity will give us thousands of options. There are literally thousands of ways to do things already and to see how they all work is one thing, but to see how they all interconnect is another. We all have these options. The things that will expand our consciousness, yet most of us don't know it yet. We don't need to go out and buy anything to access this looming potential. The tools are already there, on our cell phone, in our televisions, behind the dashboards of our cars. But for most of us, we don't see how they all work together.

It dawned on me, that our lack of knowledge about how new technology is fundamentally changing how we perceive our world is creating a service economy because most of us simply don't have the time or the curiosity to figure things out. So we end up paying someone else to figure out life's complexities for us. When this happens, the Singularity is taken over by the few and not the masses.

I have a new television set. It is one of those fancy HDTV flat panel jobs. It has a super nice picture and all sorts of neat features. The thing has 7 (count them seven) inputs, so I can plug in my DVD, my Laser Disc player, my VCR, the Nintendo Game Cube and my iPod into it all at the same time! Talk about a techie dream. Only problem is, my wife isn’t that techie. I have come to realize that most folks aren’t that techie.

My wife simply wants to be able to plop down in front of the TV, push a button and magically have "American Idol" appears before her eyes. She doesn't want the thousand options. She doesn't want to navigate the system. For her, simple is better. For 90% of the population, simple is better. Just tell us what we want and then give us what we want.

This same concept can be expanded to almost every nook and cranny of society. Our cars, our phone, even our work space.

I chuckle at the advertisements for the New Cadillacs and Lincolns. Monster vehicles that have computer controlled climates, voice activated GPS systems and satellite radios. Yet, in the back of my mind, I have this feeling that the folks that plunk down 50K for one of these techno-vehicles don't really have a clue about how most of these things work. It usually comes down to three simple things. 1) Key turns it on, 2) This pedal makes it go, 3) This pedal makes it stop. Beyond that, I don't think that too many hands reach for the owners manual.

If you can't use a map and a compass, a GPS satellite navigations system isn't going to do you a lot of good. If you can't burn your own CD's on a computer, an MP3 compliant 12 speaker deck with Sirius Satellite radio may be a bit beyond your comprehension.

When the need to figure these devices out actually comes along, we end up paying for someone else to make them work for us, or at the very least train us how to work them. Common curiosity is not a real virtue these days. We are trained to believe that we "can't" figure things out and it is better to find someone else that can.

If the Singularity ever does come about, and we attain the potential to make quantium leaps in our ability to understand the universe, I think it will be in the hands (or minds) or a few. Those minds will tell us what we want and then spoon feed us like babies in high chairs.

It is past 1984….better start reading the manual folks.

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