Science fiction authors have predicted the future, or some will say, inspired it. In 1968 Arthur C. Clarke published “2001: A Space Odyssey” an allegory about humanity’s exploration of the universe, and the universe’s reaction to humanity. In his book Clarke describes the electronic papers or the “newspad” that people read, which are pretty much our tablets.
Even before that, in 1949, George Orwell’s “1984” predicting Big Brother and mass surveillance.Lastly In this futuristic crime caper from 1984 follows a burnt-out hacker and cyber thief whose ability to “jack in” to cyberspace is restored by a miracle cure.William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” predicted our future cyberspace society and computer hackers. In his latest book, “The Store”, James Patterson describe the implications of constantly being watched.
Science fiction authors predict and write about the good and the bad with technology, our phones in particular. Here is a list of 10 things we got used to doing with technology, that I didn’t see coming. I am not talking about the obvious of taking pictures (raise your hand if you own a camera), learning a new language (there are some great apps out there on the app store. If that’s not your cup of tea, there are online tutors that can help you “in person”), grocery shopping and paying our bills, dating, or even hailing a cab (Yes, UBERing used to be picking up the phone and calling for a cab).
Here are some fields our phones got into that may or may not surprise you.
1. Private Investigators — Nowadays aren’t we all spies? Going on a blind date used to be going in blind, not knowing what the other person is all about. Well… besides what your friend or family thought you should know. This matchmaking had a reason, the person that connected you both thought that you may like each other. Both came to your date with a clean slate. As George Orwell’s “1984” predicted, we can all check almost anything about anyone — you can go on a “blind date” knowing what your date had for breakfast before you even said hello. In my opinion, knowing that can be a huge turn off. For all you know, this could be your soulmate but you may never give them a REAL chance.
2. Meditation — As one that just discovered meditation and its amazing benefits, I practice with the help of technology and with other people. Reporting back I would say that the app helps me meditate regularly. However, when I find the time and I do sit with other people to meditate, I feel as if I gain much more out of my practice. Furthermore, if it’s a guided meditation and feeling rise to your consciousness, you want to be able to talk to someone that understand, your phone can’t help with that.
3. Forming Good Habits — When wanting to form good habits like quit smoking, remember to floss, read daily, and so much more — there are plenty of apps that can help you with that. These I absolutely love!!! Why have your significant other nag if you can have your phone do that same dirty job 😉
4. White Noise — White noise is a special type of sound signal which is used to mask background sounds. “Listening” to it while you go to sleep helps to drown out sounds which might otherwise prevent you from either falling asleep or waking up whilst asleep. I wonder if we were to need it assuming our phones will be kept outside of the bedroom… Just a thought.
5. Sleep Tracker — Until recently, there was no tool to see how how much you slept. Sleep sensors and sleep apps not only make you (supposedly) wake up or fall asleep easier, but you will get to know your body’s needs much better than before. How cool is that!
6. Medical — If before you had to track your health at the doctor’s office, nowadays the variety of medical type apps gives you broaden alternatives. There are apps that tracks your glucose readings, track your medications and remind you in case you missed a dose, measure and tracks your heart rate, and more. Many of us use WebMD for self diagnostics. It may save us unnecessary trips to the doctor, but it can also get us crazy with a diagnostic that may not be right. All I am saying, use common sense. Incorporate the apps that helps and consult with your doctor when needed — use those apps responsibly.
7. Therapist Online — When I think of speaking with a psychologist I see Nicolas Cage in the Matchstick Men’s “That Was a Good Day” Scene. The man obviously has problems, and he needs help. Can you imagine him using the app?! Would you consider it beneficial?! The accessibility of a therapist is important. Especially for those who cannot afford one in person, or live too far from one. But I would argue that in some cases, as much as an app helps when a physical therapist is not accessible, human interaction when it’s an emotional need is important if not crucial.
8. Learn to Play Any Instrument — I remember having a piano lesson at my house. A tutor would come and sit with me every Tuesday, and I had to spend the rest of the week practicing. If I didn’t, she would know. This is no longer the case. There are apps and YouTube videos to teach you anything. All you need to do is carve the time to learn and practice. My daughter and I recently started learning how to play a guitar. It is so much fun, we do it at our own time and our own pace!
9. Personal Assistant — Can’t afford to hire a full time personal assistant?! No need to worry, there is a virtual option for that. It could be a virtual person that is helping you by the hour, or a mixture of productive apps. Pick what suits your needs best.
10. Personal Translator — if it used to be going to a foreign country with a dictionary and in some cases using the help of a translator, now all you need is your phone. Anyone you need to understand can speak directly to your phone and you immediately understand what they say. I love it!
As I always say, technology is no good nor bad. Inventors will continue inventing new things in different fields to automate in our lives. It all depends on what you choose to do with them. Some capabilities I would embrace while others I’ll keep for humans to continue doing. Now it’s your choice. What do you think, will you embrace all 10?