The Internet has changed the way we do a lot of things. Going forward it is bound to change even more. One great leap that is still in its infancy is the ability to be online all the time. Looking forward with a scifi-eye we are going to have two technologies that will take this to the extreme.
1. Display technology is taking leaps and bounds. Next step, flexible displays. After that we'll get contact lens personal displays and optional permanent implants.
2. The ability to control the device without an external input device. Read: We can use our thoughts.
Most of you will probably agree with the former easier than the latter, but have a look online. Once again great advances are happening currently for people with disabilities.
Mind Control Over Motorized Wheelchairs
Meet the mind readers
Brain Power: Mind Control of External Devices
And on and on goes the list.
So what does it all mean? Probably a lot more than you or I can imagine. But let's just take one example: Education.
In school we used to have to learn by heart the major cities of every country along with their population. Now, I must say I wasn't too enthusiastic about it, the Soviet Union doesn't exactly exist anymore and the population of Atlanta isn't exactly the same that it was back in the day.
Now, how on Earth would you try to teach like that to kids with these implants? Who would be kidding who trying to say that memorizing facts like this would be anywhere near relevant anymore? The measure of intelligence will shift dramatically from being book learned to adaptive thinking and problem solving. This change has already started, but just imagine being able to pull up any fact about anything, anywhere, at any moment? The challenge becomes the ability to put this data to use. Just ask anyone who has tried to implement a CRM system (successfully or not). How do you teach? What do you teach?
Resistance will be huge; the first pioneers to try to make changes in the academic world will be shunned, disgraced and humiliated. It will not be pretty. But that is the way the world works. Change is hated, yet inevitable.
Will it start to bring common sense back into the world? I deeply hope so. Yet, I fear that for many it will be an excuse to understand even less about the world around us and how things work (or for that matter, how they should work or how to improve things). And don't forget, it won't just be information; it'll be services available, too.
What about everything else? Here are a few other things to ponder:
Instant Messaging. Privacy. Mathematics. Espionage. Safety. Entertainment. Relationships. Travel. Fitness. Libraries. Business. Telecomm. GPS. Driving. Health care. Personal computers. Checkout-machines. ATMs. Common standards. Interfaces. Sanity.
The world? We wouldn't recognize it. See you on the other side.