The Future of Today

Internet of Things. Clouds. Apple ID's. Google ID's. Dropbox Accounts. Sync. Servers. Augmented Reality. Large Data. Artificial Intelligence. Automation. 

What does it all mean? How can anybody not born into this technology possibly hope to keep up? It's a tough gig, being born in post-war industrial era. Right before your very eyes you've suddenly witnessed the dawn, growth, evolution and now normalcy of the digital age. And it's only just beginning. 

For many (so I'm told) it seems like yesterday the new invention of the 'internet' sparked excitement across the globe, yet it was still a toy for scientists and geeks, as opposed to a revolutionary connectivity tool that would induce a tectonic shift in every industry on Earth. Not long after most workplaces transitioned to keyboards instead of typewriters. Monitors instead of pages of paper. And you kept up with it, mostly, for a while...

Now you walk into a store and the candy-bar phones that were so cherished and loved (Nokia 3315 anyone?) and relatively simple to use no longer exist. 2G is gone, and it took snake with it. Tablets are everywhere and old media is dying. Populism is taking over aided by consequence-free prejudices emerging from behind keyboards through social media. What's going on?!

Sales staff talk to you in unintelligible code, and roll their eyes in exasperation when you can't understand it. Gigahertz, Megabytes, Teraflops. Might as well be Pterodactyls. Networking protocol, NBN, Cable, HFC, ADSL, ADSL2, ADSL2+, VDSL. Seriously - can those geeks make more acronyms? Google or Apple. Microsoft or Android. What makes a Smart TV Smart? Is it when I'm not smart enough to turn it on? Bandwidth, Capacity, Storage, RAM, ROM, Quad-Core, Dual-Core, Octa-core. What's the name for a 16-core processor? Make it stop!

Well, I have good news and bad news. 

The good news is: You're not alone. In my time at the front of retail technology sales or management for several years, the consistent trend I've noticed is an increasingly large lack of knowledge of what are fundamental principles of technology moving forward. This blog isn't specifically delving into what those are (check out Tech 101 for that - coming soon), but highlights a central undercurrent of today that I believe is largely ignored, often unnoticed and is in desperate need for acknowledgement and attention.

I would say, in my opinion, at least 80% of people I speak to on a daily basis have formed their own prejudices based on horribly malignant misinformation that is utterly untrue. Do I need iTunes for my iPhone? No. Is my 20 megapixel phone better than my girlfriends 12 megapixel phone? No. Is my Octa-core, 51ghz super-sonic warp speed omg awesome-a-tron LG better than a Huawei average-a-tron? Not likely. Can I drag and drop on Android? Sure, for some things - same as iPhone - but you're still thinking about cables. And that's the problem. 

On a daily basis I am routinely bombarded by customers or people who are infuriated by something forward-thinking that means they need to adapt to change, and quite frankly I am baffled by it. Change is good. Change is forwards. Change is evolutionary. And change is surging forwards rapidly at a pace unmatched in history. Change is making more things possible, all the time, for everybody. 

A stubborn resistance to change is akin to a hermit living in the woods. A stubborn resistance to change leads to being angry over ATM's taking tellers' jobs at banks. A stubborn resistance to change is lining up at checkouts with no carry-on for 45 minutes simply to talk to a 'real person'. A stubborn resistance to change is waiting on hold for 20 minutes to talk to your telecommunications provider rather than using a universally adopted live chat feature on their website. Or, much to my annoyance, simply using whatever online portal is available to do basic, fundamental account-level changes for yourself.  

A stubborn resistance to change leads to preferring fossil fuel powered vehicles over technically superior electric cars that will win in every category simply because "it's not the same". 

No, it's not. And in the example above, I challenge anybody to put forward an argument on how that's a negative argument? An electric car is zero-emission, zero-maintenance cost and 100% renewable. It's faster, more comfortable, more powerful and will soon (edit: already are) be driving themselves. You can stick an obnoxious v8 sounding engine in there synthetically if you want to remember the glory days, but no v8 will compete with an electric engine anymore. Deal with it. 

That means adapting to technology that will inevitably and invariably affect almost every single one of us in today's rapidly changing technological environments. Technology isn't simply a way of having an edge over competition in existing industries anymore. It is THE ultimate existing industry. Soon, it will be the only existing industry. Failing to adapt to change in today's world and keep up with basic, fundamental principles means you will fail in tomorrow's world.

The bad news is, that's on you.

It sounds harsh, and perhaps it is - but so is life. 'I just want things to stay the same' is not reasonable. Technology is not going to wait for anybody. Never before has technology been the universal currency by which new companies are born and previous leading companies destroyed. Nokia and Blackberry were sitting pretty 10 years ago and are now nowhere to be seen. On the same note, Google only became common knowledge around the same time and is now officially a verb in the Oxford Dictionary - the only company to have ever made that transition. Coal mining literally fuelled the industrial revolution and is now almost extinct, despite the efforts of a certain global leader who is also resistant to change.

I want to be clear though: Not everyone has to be Steve Jobs. People can lack specific technological knowledge and be completely fine, as long as they can utilise what's currently available. For example: A blogger can be successful - but only if they know how to use just enough of the internet and technology to effectively blog. A small business can still run on hard work and grit - but not without some of that going into effective social media marketing and web design. The best thing to do is embrace the advancement - it is here to help you - if you let it. Effectively utilising technology in this day and age is unbelievably useful, and crucial to gaining an edge over those who refuse to accept that there is a new age upon us. 

From your personal conveniences to professional competitiveness and everything in between, it is important to put the effort in to learn how to use the tools and environment around you. Regardless of what industry you're from or what your day to day life looks like. There is nothing more pitiful than watching someone look at a touchscreen in total confusion as if it were filled with hieroglyphs painted with invisible ink. There is nothing more frustrating than watching someone get angry at an inanimate object due to their own user error. 

It is crucial, now more than ever, for those of us who are currently shaping today and the future to keep in touch with technology and not let that aspect of our lives lapse.

After all, right now we're the generation where 'AI' is here and sparking interest all over the globe, and it will cause a tectonic shift for humanity over the next couple of decades. Not long before most workplaces will transition to AR instead of conference calls. Collaborative screen sharing instead of proofreading documents. Shared virtual reality instead of computer monitors.
So let's put down our typewriters and keep up.

- Tom