By 2065 We Will All Be Lawnmower Man

Today I read an article where Palmer Luckey of Oculus fame was quoted as saying “I’d be very surprised if 50 years from now we’re still all carrying around slabs in our pockets when you can just project a virtual environment,”  But that is crazy right, we won’t abandon our phones, we are too addicted right?  He is just marketing his own technology with that statement…isn’t he?  Truth be told his prediction is probably a little conservative. I would even take it a step further and hedge that some of us will be walking around not only with VR attachments that can project a virtual environment, but with implants that tie directly into our brain waves.

50 years is a long time in innovation years, like at least 350 human years. I am just half-jokingly doing some dog-year vs human-year math there, but what I am getting at is that technology is advancing much faster than humans are able to consume it or at least interact with it in a meaningful way.  Just think that a mere 52 years ago the first touch tone phone was invented. Now I bet if you told the world back then that we would all have mini-computers that fit in our hands they would have thought you were writing the follow-up to the movie The Man with X-Ray Eyes.

Yet here we are today, all of us, walking around with mini-computers in our pockets, on our wrists, in our cars, making us our morning coffee and even taking up space in our fancy jewelry. (P.S. I totally want that ring for Christmas Santa!) There are are even prosthetics being developed that can communicate directly with your brain so why couldn’t we imagine a world 50 years from now where will be able to not only project virtual environments, but increase our brain power the way Jobe did in Lawnmower Man? Of course we could leave out the part where he becomes all evil and abandons his real body for a purely virtual existence.  By the way, I am not sure if the general quality of the CGI in that movie or the scene where his virtual lawnmower mouth destroys a brain in real-life is more ridiculous.


So what are we to do with all this tech that is being developed at a lightening speed? How do we avoid becoming Jobe and have it consume us before we consume it?  I’ve seen a lot of bolted on technology for technology’s sake and often it ends in many dollars spent for disappointing results. There is an RFID or NFC chip, so let’s stick it in a product. Why? Because technology! Slap a QR code on it? Sure why not! Shazam and Blippr the hell out of it while you are at it. There is a smart home device, let’s plug it in! What does it do? Who knows, but it’s so smart! When the users fail to materialize, because sorry Kevin Kostner,  just building it does not mean they will come these days, companies often sink more money into iterating on bad ideas hoping our non-enhanced human brains will suddenly wrap meaning and attachment around the technology. The winners in this brave new world of smart devices are going to be the ones that don’t underestimate the value of keeping human nature and real experiences alive amongst the sea of wires, chipsets, ones and zeros.  As far (or not far) as CGI has come since the 90’s, most of of us still prefer living in the real world.

We are still very much in the novelty phase for wearables and smart devices and a long way from a place where   consumers or companies are actually able to leverage the data en masse to do much good or evil, so no need to panic just yet, but when the time does arrive, one can only hope we all look as rad awesome wearing our head gear as this monkey in Lawnmower man.

robocop monkey


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