Is there some neurological process related to aging that makes people future shocked and fearful of technology at some point in their lives? Is this going happen to me too? I am seriously concerned at this point – I’m going to be 30 later this year, and I don’t want some cognitive switch pop in my head and turn me into technophobe overnight. I don’t want to be the guy who yells at kids to get of the
lawn facebook or whatever is going to be the next big thing after it.
It seems that every middle aged person out there who have spawned some offspring this century seems to be deeply concerned by things like video games, internet and cellular technology. These are the bogymen of the present times – apparently much more worrisome than dancing, rock & roll and rap music was for their parents apparently. Just listen to their conversations sometimes. They go on and on, about how kids these don’t even want to go outside – they want to stay in, play the x-box, go on facebook and text message each other. Like it is something abhorrent. As if the technology was somehow enslaving them, and preventing them from enjoying all the awesome stuff that is outside the house… Which is what exactly?
I mean, I thought that in the last 3 or 4 decades we have definitively established that “the outside” is no place for children to be. That when they venture outside they have to be monitored at all times by a trusted parental unit, and need to wear GPS enabled phones with tracking devices and check in with the home base every hour on the hour like some double-agent going on a suicide mission behind enemy lines. We had them convinced that every van parked on the street contains a rape-hungry pedophile, and that every stranger on their street is either a lunatic serial killer, a mafia-connected human trafficker looking for new “merchandise” or just your regular confused gang member looking to “bust a cap in someone’s posterior” or whatever they do these days. If my parents would drum these sort of things into my head, I wouldn’t want to go outside either.
Few days ago I read an article written by some future shocked mother who complained that her daughters no longer act like she expected teenagers to act. That all their excursions to the dangerous world of “outside” were basically carefully engineered facebook photo-ops, and documented via constant stream of status updates and tweets. Like this is in any way weird. I mean, what else are they going to do? Each one of them is carrying a high definition camera in their pocket. Each one has a personal web presence in the form of their facebook profile, and they can fill it with pictures and stream of consciousness updates in real-time from anywhere within the cellular grid. And this lady thinks it is weird because… What exactly? Because she did not have that when she was young? Because then a camera was a very expensive, very fragile brick you had to sneak out of your father’s study and return promptly least he finds out?
As I’m getting older, I begin to see the generational gap opening between me and the new generations. I love the fact that kids growing up today never actually experienced a world without high speed internet. To me, this is fantastic. You may not see it yet, but these kids are already post-humans in a way. Their lives and communications are already expanding into the internet. They are not just mere meat-bags trapped in meat-space like their old-folks. They are online meta-presences, with their cell phones and their laptops acting like a complex metacortex extension of their mind. They are trans-humans – a new intermediate stage in human evolution. And with each generation biological minds and their electronic extensions will become more intertwined.
This process has already begun. I spoke to someone recently, who was terrified by the fact the school kids these days commit so little to memory – that they don’t feel the need to memorize and learn things by rote. To me this is logical step towards post humanism. These kids are permanently network enabled they have all of the combined human knowledge at their fingertips. They no longer have to carry facts and formulas in their heads. Storing things in neural wetware is laborious and expensive – not to mention the fact that memorizing without understanding is worthless anyway. They have to learn to understand concepts and their connections, and then index these concepts to trigger words. Facts, details and formulas can be looked up later, as long as you remember concepts and keywords.
Times are changing, and so is the human condition. And I couldn’t be more excited about it. I want to be on the forefront of whatever comes next. All the way to singularity and beyond.