Whoops, The Future's Already Here

They even have an academic name for them, for the folks who study our future. They’re called Futurists, and they pick up from where Aldous Huxley and Captain Kirk leave off. These are the scholars who analyze and project what our distant tomorrows will be like. Flying belts. time travel. computer chips in our brains. whatever.

I have a thought for them. The future you’re studying so intensely is already here.

No real mystery to it. Just look around. Everyday, everywhere: Screens…! Big screens in our family rooms, little screens in our desktop computers, handheld screens in our smartphones, security screens in our streets and in our airports, medical screens in our hospitals, talking screens in our checkouts, surround-screens in our sport-bars, and by golly even tiny screens mom can plant in front of tiny Jimmy and Jessica wherever she wants to keep them mesmerized and mute.

This galaxy of screens in our daily lives may seem one-way. And yet, while we’re gazing into them, they can digitally gaze right back. Tracking who, where, when, and why we’re gazing. The question quickly becomes: Who’s actually retrieving and recording the most from these daily transactions?

Call it whatever you’ve decided.The age of instant communication, of lifelong learning, or maybe of Big Brother. Frankly, though, whatever your choice, it won’t be precisely correct. Because you see we’ve never been here before, and so we have nothing to compare it with.

It recalls the old Safari guide leading his troupe of jungle tourists. For miles he brought them through twisted roadways and pathways. Then suddenly the roads and paths disappeared in the rugged wilderness. The tourists were frightened. “What do we do now? There’s no more trail to follow!” The worldly wise guide paused and explained: “From here on, WE’RE the trail…!”

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