One of the few good things about being an old codger is the sense of perspective. We may not have flying cars or moon colonies yet, but 2020 has a lot of features that I find more immediately useful than being able to zoom over the live oaks to the supermarket. (Grocery delivery, for one.)
90 percent of my favorite books are available as e-books and, for the first time since 1990, I can see pockets of empty space on the bookshelves!
I get to research a historical fantasy from my couch instead of trekking over to the rare books collection where I’m strip-searched and refused any writing implements other than one pencil… to read a modern facsimile edition of an Elizabethan fencing manual.
The kid in Brooklyn can call any time she wants to chat instead of waiting for messages urgent enough to justify three minutes at night time lower calling rates.
Instead of parsing mainstream media stories to figure out what they’re carefully not saying, I can check out a wide variety of alternative news sources and form my own opinions about the story behind the spin.
Looking farther afield… charities that distribute used clothing overseas now tell me that they don’t want any garments that aren’t in excellent condition. Being able to hold out for a new-looking shirt instead of being happy with a ripped and stained undershirt probably doesn’t seem like luxury to us in America, but it’s a vast improvement for much of Africa. The wealth created by the Industrial Revolution continues to spread.
Those millions of people who were supposed to starve to death during the overpopulation famines to follow 1970… didn’t. I’m sorry about the ones who did starve and are starving because of our inability to completely destroy all manifestations of socialism/communism/totalitarianism, but in celebration of the non-famines, we could do worse than erect a statue to Norman Borlaug.
And as for the personal robots… Pass on that one. I’m not letting Alexa or any of her friends into the house, thank you very much! And the First Reader gave me a nifty little phone case that supposedly blocks location tracking, so in the unlikely event I actually go anywhere, the Data Giants won’t have an automatic record of my movements. Some “progress” is to be celebrated, but some is to be thwarted.
(Header image: Interior of Stanford Torus. By Donald Davis – NASA Ames Research Center)