I grew up with a Apple IIe computer, the games were largely all text based unless you played Capitals of the world, coded by my dad, a game which drew a world map and then you had to guess the capital of random countries highlighted.
That all changed with Elite. The game was huge and sucked up many hours, which took me close but not quite to Elite status. I still remember during the eighties getting a video recorder and spending much of it hunting down obscure Sci-Fi movies while pretending to be ill so I could miss school. I should have learnt to code in this period.
Fast forwards 20 years and it’s the turn of the decade and century, digital media starts to become the normality. I own a PlayStation and what I thought was amazing 3D graphics. Cameras are now digital but the size of a brick, the internet is normal but slow. I actually finished my degree on a computer. I started it writing on paper!
A further 10 years and the iPhone becomes a reality. I can now play and watch everything in the palm of my hand. Always connected to every bit of news, music and gaming the world has to offer. I am writing this post now, on the train, on my phone. I will go on to use it through the day for work. The growth of this technology is immense and now they are talking about all the stuff I read about in physical books and watched on VHS many years ago.
Sofia is crawling across the bed. She has two goals, the TV remote control and the phone. She has toy versions of both just to distract her but she knows they are not real, not sure how, maybe because we are not using them. They don’t work, they don’t allow her control of her day or in years to come change her futures present. If you look at all the Sci-Fi over recent years the ones that resonate are virtual/augmented reality, robotics and also physical augmentation. Is this where Sofia’s future lies?
Robotics and virtual reality dominate the near future and based on some of Asimov’s books and short stories we will all use it to make us more remote from the real world, to avoid human contact in favour of something we can control or be happy in. Elon Musk the billionaire owner of Telsa, SpaceX and Hyperloop believes we are living in a virtual reality simulator already just because of the speed of that advance. So where does this leave us?
As I get older most of the games, films I used to watch over and over are less important. I don’t have time for a start but also because reality I want tends to be outdoors and exploring the real and the physical. A reason why I like running and cycling. To date it is so much more real and interesting.
There is a danger that a future Google Earth and virtual reality mashed together may be seen as a replacement way of seeing the world. A safe way without the dangers of reality. You can have a few more lives, take more risks but ultimately it isn’t rewarding as you become cold to its virtual perfection. Like records, reality will become cool but not normal. We are in jobs after all because people do not agree or have a common goal and things are not perfect as a result.
So I find myself keeping her away as much as we can from mobile phones, one because she’d put it in her mouth or smash it but also because you want her to realise the real world around her. There is so much to see, do and experience for real. I don’t want her to become as obsessed as we have become with modern technology, however much I love it. Of course my conversation on this is limited with her at the moment, namely to hiding the phone from view and trying to use it less in front of her.
I am never going to stop her using technology. In fact I will openly encourage her to become a developer and be interested in building things, physical or virtual. As long as you are a master of the technology and not a slave to the endless Facebook scroll (I deleted the App at the start of the year to avoid this). The real world is all around us and is interesting because it real. Hopefully we can convince her of this and help her explore it.