Tagfuturism

The future is coffee and croissants

You are hurtling towards a strange future, a future full of invisible nanobots, amazing technology, and, ultimately, ready access to delicious coffee and croissants served at a street-side cafe as life washes by your contented brain. In short, the future won’t be full of Blade-Runner-esque horrors and endless rain. It will be a nice day in a nice place — everywhere in the world.

I cribbed this vision of the future from one of my podcast guests, Ben Hammersley. Ben, like me, is a techno-optimist. He believes that a truly developed world, one where robots take over our driving and travel and technology becomes ubiquitous and invisible, looks more like a nice walk in Barcelona than the Warriors. Why? Because as good things become generally available and we have to work less to get them the future will be far more pleasant than we all imagine.

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The Plateau

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We are now in an era of technological stagnation, a true plateau. The last time this happened — between 1990 and 2000 — we lived in a world that changed little over a decade with incremental and short-sighted technological improvements standing in for real change. The current stagnation began in about 2008 and I expect it will end in five years.

I realize this is a lot to swallow but consider the facts: between 1990s and 2000 little changed. The Web, which was in its infancy, was still considered a plaything or snake oil by an important subset of the technologically savvy and Bill Gates didn’t get publicly bullish on the Internet until 1997. The browser was an enemy and most businesses fell back to Lotus Notes and private networks in an effort to keep their employees from potentially using company time to connect their business to the world. Linux was a plaything and open source was a haven for zealots and the socially awkward.

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