A vision of technology futures…(and a thank you to Carl Sagan and NASA)…

I haven’t put up Christmas lights in many years. Mostly because its winter and you have to take them down when the season is done. I know it’s a form of holiday cheer, but frankly I think the modern CPS world could replace it. Permanent lights that allow you to have security year round (as motion is detected the light come on) but the bulb is capable of producing multicolored lights so that you end up with a festive house for every holiday you celebrate.

The internet of lights – it’s a thing!

As the season gets colder one good thing is there are more clear nights. I think the first time I saw a telescope I was hooked. It started for me with a friends 2nd grade presentation on NASA. I was hooked on the Indy 500 before then (still love the technology, cars and the race but its not my sole passion as it was in 2nd grade). Yes I followed NASA and was horrified with the loss of life in the Apollo capsule. Virgil “Gus” Grissolm was from Mitchell Indiana which is just south of where Indiana University sits in Bloomington Indiana. There is a memorial for Gus Grissolm in Mitchell I have made the trip many times. That movement when I became a space nut changed everything for me. I ended up literally, looking to the heavens.

Carl Sagan opened that door even father. Exploring the world beyond where the astronauts were going. Looking at the billions of stars in the sky and wondering.

Suddenly it was normal to look up. It was normal to shine your flashlight at a distant star and wonder how long it would take that light from the flashlight to speed across the galaxy to that far star.

My personal love of technology comes from that influence. First NASA, then Carl Sagan and his TV show. I know comics and others added and Billions to what Sagan said but I don’t care. His show opened the world for me. He expanded on what NASA started and gave me a vision of what could be.

I grew up in the time of technologies expansion. Technology was born of the industrial revolution as humans expanded their use of tools to automation. Jobs that once took 10 people were replaced by Fulton’s steam engines. Steam engines were added to ships and suddenly ocean travel didn’t need a breeze or a prevailing wind. You could go anywhere just point the ship!

Suddenly automation was the goal. We pushed further and further into the application of technology. The two great wars of the last century forced an acceleration of automation. The war that came after the last great war, dubbed the cold war, accelerated technology even more. As a technologist that gives me pause, I wish peace had driven the change but that wasn’t to be.

People say “I got into technology to change the world.” I find that to be old thinking. Technology has already changed the world. My father traveled the world as part of his profession. He wrote us letters that were airmailed to us, he would be away from 4-6 or more weeks at a time. Normally it was every summer he was gone starting around 1974. I traveled as a professional and the change between 1996 when I started traveling and 1974 when dad started was the reality of cellular phones that could be used anywhere in the world. Where dad wrote letters that were shuffled onto airplanes and a week later in the mailbox of the people you sent them to, I could call. Twice a day in Asia, once a day in Europe. But I could call. I could log into my email and send pictures.

People ask me all the time where is technology going. What is next? What will we see. I think the time of great technology revelations has passed. Technology is here. The next big thing is integration resulting in more automation. We will see that coming. It swill slides into our lives in the middle of the night and we won’t even notice. You see Technology changed the world 100 years ago. We are only just now noticing it.