for release Friday January 14, 2005
by Melodie Davis
In The Year 2025
I was having a problem with those phising emails—you know, the fake e-mails that look like they are from a very reputable company that you deal with, asking you to verify your account information. I sent an e-mail to my daughter Michelle to warn her too, and titled it “Ebay phising e-mails.”
When I was done I looked at that title and thought, “Twenty three years ago when she was born, that subject heading would have looked like Greek, gobbledygook or garbage.” And here in good old 2005, most computer users, or those who try to keep up with such things in the newspaper or news, know exactly what the phrase means. (For more on this particular problem, see http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/phishing.htm )
But I had to think, what kind of terminology will we be using in 20 years, the year 2025 that we haven’t even heard or thought of yet?
When Michelle was born, the personal computer was just coming into use as a viable concept. Prior to the late 70’s-early 80s, computers were huge monsters that filled whole rooms. I could barely conceive of owning one computer at home, let alone the four computers that our family has now (actually the three girls each own their own).
Here we are at 2005. The “new” decade is one half gone. The new century is 1/20th spent. Remember the hoopla about the year 2000 and the predicted disastrous results of the Y2K bug? Ancient history. Close on the heels though of 2000, was September 11, 2001, and that event, of course, did have disastrous, world-changing results. I for one have no clue as to what to predict for 2025 but the prospect fills me with hope, excitement, and yes, of course, a bit of fear and trepidation. What kind of technology will we be using in 20 years, the year 2025?
When I look back at past columns, I realize that “new technology” is a frequent theme of mine. I wrote a column once about the whiz bang fun of the new-fangled (at the time) office fax machine. Now at home you can fax, scan, photocopy (in color) and print all from one simple (and cheap) printer.
This made me think of Yager Evans’ song, “In the year 2525,” which is of course quite a few years off, (the lyrics go from 2525 to the year 10,000), but the thought is the same: what technological wonders await us? Will they be bane, or blessing? Will there even be an earth, or man and woman as we know them?
Sometimes technology seems like more trouble than it is worth. When e-mail first became commonplace, most of us marveled at the wonder of communicating so quickly and cheaply with family, friends and colleagues all over the world. But now we have to wade through hundreds and thousands of unwanted e-mails. We have to worry about increased risks of identity theft—and the resulting financial ruin.
For every technological improvement, one can think of problems or drawbacks. My husband has always longed for little signs to post in apology in the car if he (or I) do something dumb while driving. “Oops! Sorry to cut you off! Thanks for letting me cut in front of you.” I can imagine vehicle-to-vehicle communication like that by the year 2025. But how quickly would it evolve into vehicle-to-vehicle cussing? Or worse?
Now that every medical office thinks they have to “entertain” you with TVs, videos, or (at the bare minimum) radio, how nice it would be if you could select a “no media” zone that would soften or turn off all devices when you passed within 10 feet. Or how about computers to read your musical choices and program in 500 songs in a style that you like, audible only by you? (Then somebody would want to insert commercials, of course.)
Computers will probably make one of my most dreaded chores—deciding what to fix for dinner—a lot easier. Organized cooks can already program their computer to remind them what menu (out of 30-60 pre-programmed meals) to fix today—and whether the supplies are on hand. Before long we will routinely turn off and on the oven, microwave or coffeemaker through computers from our office or workplace.
But you can bet one thing: there will be new problems. No time will really be saved. We will not have more leisure: we’ll just spend more time debugging technology. That’s the nature of change, and it has been going on for thousands of years. And so the T-shirt motto is fitting: “Adjust!” One also thinks of the advice of the writer of Ecclesiastes many thousands of years ago, “There is nothing new under the sun. All is vanity.” Ecclesiastes concludes that the thing to do is “Stand in awe of God and keep God’s commandments. This is our whole duty as humans.” (Ecclesiastes 11:13, paraphrased.)
What do you think? Write to me at Another Way, Box 22, Harrisonburg, Va. 22802 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
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