What will technology be like in 25 years?

Published 11:30 pm Saturday, January 29, 2011

Technologically speaking, we’ve come a long way baby.

This was driven home recently when I was shopping for birthday presents for my 3 year old.

It is amazing to see both the technology that is classified as “toys” and also the ease with which our youth embrace these gadgets.

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Smart phones. iPods. Laptops. Kindles. GPS devices. The Internet. WiFi.

All these have become ingrained in our culture.

It has only been about two and half decades since the Commodore 64 became a part of our world.

I remember thinking that it was absolutely amazing what that gigantic machine was able to accomplish.

Now even the most basic of cell phones leaves those old computer systems in a pile of parts and dust in terms of ability and sheer usage. Most of us wield far more power in the palms of our hands than these old computers had at all.

It would have been impossible to predict exactly how much and how fast the technology would permeate our lives.

Things that were once integral parts of our lives are now nearly extinct. This includes pay phones (and maybe even home phones), handwritten letters, encyclopedias, portable stereos that were often called “boom boxes” and many other things that have gone the way of the Dodo bird.

Today, everyone has a cellphone. In 1986 lots of houses didn’t have phones and those that did almost certainly all had cords on them.

Today, you can download, store, and read a book on a device not much larger than a calculator. Twenty five years ago you had to go to the library or the bookstore.

Today, the world is more connected than ever because of the Internet and the technology that drives it.

Anyone who doesn’t embrace all the new technologies will most certainly get left behind.

Our youth are now more adept and more fluent with modern technology than many of their adult counterparts.

Case in point is my 3 year old who is pretty good at managing digital cameras, phones, the computer and video game systems like the Nintendo Wii.

That got me thinking. What will the technology be like 25 years from now, when my daughter is approaching 30?

It is impossible for me to even fathom what that will be, with any predictions likely sounding more like science fiction than actual fact.

Household robots? Fully digital homes with artificial intelligence? Colonization beyond the stars? Cars that drive themselves?

All sound a little far fetched to me, but I bet all the things we take for granted would have sounded the same way in 1986.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.