2012-03-02

1984 Here we are!

If you take Science Fiction novels literally, George Orwell’s masterpiece can still instill fear and have a weird echo in today’s news. Will the “Big Brother” of the month be Google or Facebook? Last year it was Microsoft or IBM, I don’t remember. But if, like me who have read a lot of that style of literature, you know that Science Fiction, just like tales, myths and even religions, must NOT be taken literally. All those stories only show us simplified symbols in a unreal environment, that try to mimic our own inner adventures, feelings, relationships and so on, but in no way something real. Always remember they can be truth in fiction as well as a real person can lie.

I wanted today to look back over the three technological decades I have lived and to check which of my geek dreams went true. I must tell I am very sad that all the innovations predicted about transportation were not achieved: I really miss the flying cars and teleportation. On the other hand, I gave up to dream about space travel since I read Return from the stars by Stanislav Lem. As long as the speed of light is the ultimate bound, everything, everyone who will be send out of our solar system is lost. And there can never be a single “galactic civilization”, may be multiple but it’s going to be hard and it is not for tomorrow. But this is not my subject today.

So, what are “my dreams came true” in the technological world? First, I have to tell you my age, I’m born in 1966, and so my dreams are the ones I made around the early 80’s.
Forgive me in advance to be raw, but then, I really dreamt to have a computer I could use at the toilets. And I’m not ashamed to tell that now that I can do it, I do. I experience for more than half a year the couple ChromeOS Chromebook and Android Nexus S phone (both by Samsung), and I brought either one or the other everywhere: in the bed, in the bath tube, at my parent’s, in the train, on holidays or at the supermarket. As far as I was disappointed a few years ago by the mobile experience, I can tell today that the mobile technologies went over my personal dreams, even if I was able to foresee the web using the IBM network 25 years ago. If we can’t have the teleportation beam feature of “Cosmos 1999” control handsets, we have the connectivity feature, with each other and with the network. This is a great step, sadly the network is not as smart as it was imagined.

 


Then, my second technological dream was about data storage. Here you have to understand that since I started coding on my TI57, I have experienced multiple types and shapes of data storage ways: from punch-cards to the professional washing-machine sized hard drive, from the audio tapes to the floppy discs, from custom magnetic cards to CD burning at x1 speed. On those days, the failures were numerous. The analysis of the issue was easy, the first buggy part was always the moving parts, the mechanics not the computers side, so I dreamt of a data storage support as simple as some memory into a little plastic stick one can plug in any processing device. Today, with the SD cards, this available to everyone, seamlessly. Even if now, with more and more wireless technologies, data storage tends to go up to the network (the cloud), every time I use a SD card I think with compassion how (a P.I.T.A.) it was before and how, once again, technology went further than my own dreams.

Here, I would like to talk about the dreams, not necessary mine, on which I gave up, that today are a reality. Those technology capabilities seams normal for most of you, but when I think about them knowing the past failures, it is a shock. Most of those breakthrough are done by Google and the most notable are Speech Recognition and Language Translations. Those technologies are not new, but the breakthrough is that they are available to everyone, for free and that they are reliable. They are not perfect (what is?), but the “every day people” can tell: it’s working. Not far are some services like Google Maps that provides us position and directions “for free” where we had to buy paper maps and read them! Well, I read maps with ease but not everyone does, and what a time saver. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t believe that some one in the computer market could be able to provide us all those working features for that cost. That’s may be where Sergey and Larry are genius when they wanted to “organize the web with a search engine”. The idea was in the same time insane and the only reasonable one, and facts have shown us that aiming at a greater users benefits comes back in return with the advertisement market. In my point of view, this is all fair.

Last, I need to tell you the dream of my youth that has not become true despite of multiple individual wills and its persistence in the web mood: the building of a new Civilisation. While our old Business-Market-Growth civilisation tries not to collapse, we still wait for a connected world wise democracy to emerge. Okay, I may look impatient but I am sorry but the old models have shown for long that they are not working: a market without regulation leads to disaster, men run after money and growth that both kill them, politicians don’t weight anymore in front of some lobbies. But, as I often say, the system is only made of its elements, no one can really be out of it, and in the same time, there is no victims of it who didn’t choose in a way to be so. In other words, we all know that if we all push in the same direction, things can change drastically. But it’s so hard to have everyone to push in the same direction in the same time, and it is not the aim. The aim is that the average direction is not wrong and everyone of us counts in that calculation, every of our decisions or actions at any time goes in the balance.

Because what would be worth any technological breakthrough if they is no social, philosophical, political or human progress to balance it?

Nota: I’m switching this blog to English for my numerous followers on GooglePlus. Use http://translate.google.fr if you are not familiar with that language ;)
“ Music and Politics “ will still speak about music and politics, as well as philosophy, sociology and spiritual things.