In 1993, AT&T created a series of advertisements for television that predicted what technology would be like in the future titled “You Will.” This series of commercials showed then-futuristic inventions such as video phones, smart tablets, flat-screen televisions with access to streamable movies, college classes conducted online, and digitally-accessible medical files.
The Future is Now
At the time, these inventions seemed like the stuff of science fiction. Nowadays, we use them almost every day; our jobs may even depend on them. The commercials produced by AT&T in 1993 are a lesson in the benefits of dreaming big. Just as the company predicted, technology has improved our lives and provided us with greater access to world-class information. If 25 years of innovation can lead us to this point, the thinking goes, what wonders will our grandchildren or great-grandchildren see in 100 years?
Gauging the Effects of Tech Innovation
For many scientists, the notion of where technology will lead us over the next century is both an exciting prospect and a scary thought. Only 30 years ago, people had to look up telephone numbers in a phonebook if they needed to find a business. If they wanted political news, they were limited to the news programs on television that day or the newspapers they could find in their local bookstore or library.
An Accelerating Society
Nowadays, those limitations on information seem almost quaint to us. Although no one doubts that technology has created enormous change in how people communicate and live. For example, who could have predicted in 1980 that Harvard graduates in 2019 would be seeking out well-paid positions in social media marketing as an alternative to traditional career paths in law and medicine?
When Traditional Jobs Become Obsolete
Moreover, technology may make an enormous number of jobs obsolete. At companies like Amazon, plans are in place to integrate robots into factory jobs leaving computer scientists to worry that their jobs soon belong to AI programs. Technology may be leading us towards a life of ease and security, but it is difficult for some experts to be optimistic about the future.
How technology will shape the next chapter of our civilization remains to be seen. The truth is that we have made truly remarkable leaps in innovation in the last 25 years. What the year 2045 or even 2130 will look like is anyone’s guess, but it is clear that technology is taking us into new social paradigms at bullet-train speeds. Only time will show whether these new paradigms will help us or undo us.