I managed to play around with an iPad yesterday at the local geekfest (see also). It’s a beautiful little slab of glass. I won’t be getting one, for a while at least, because it excels mostly at content consumption, and I’m more about content creation. My laptop does that just fine.
Then there’s the new iPhone operating system, announced today. It brings a whole lot of overdue but awesome shit to the iPhone (and later the iPad), like multitasking and improved organization of apps. I can’t wait.
You know what I love about technology? That it keeps getting better every day. The software on existing devices is constantly improving, doing more, and doing it more efficiently. When the hardware can’t handle it any more, we jump ship to the new model, twice as good for the same price.
In that way, technology is the opposite of people. Our software is constantly getting worse. Our memory gets downgraded with every passing year; our processes start to run sluggishly and crash often. We’re stuck with the hardware we’re given; no chance of upgrading, and features are slowly removed until we’re bricked for all eternity.
Technology surrounds our lives, but our lives haven’t yet merged with it. We’re sinking like stones while our creations soar like rockets. And one day I think we’ll reach a point where iProducts can’t improve any further, but the blockage won’t be behind the screen, in battery life or heat management or chip technology; no, the weak link will be in front of the screen. What good is a fast, multitasking computer to a brain that can’t keep up and can only do one thing at a time?
Computers have gone from the workplace to the home office to the living room to the lap to the pocket, and personally I can’t wait until they take one more step right into our heads. Until then, I’m happy to gawk at beautiful machines that at least hint at the possibilities of an upgraded life.
Update Apr. 9: A recent Maclean’s article—Aliens Among Us?—touches on this idea. Some argue that any advanced alien life we find is bound to be at least partially manufactured by earlier versions of itself. Even more intriguing is the idea that we may already be partially manufactured, and can find clues of alien intervention in our genetic code. The article’s written by Kate Lunau; the very same person who interviewed me and wrote up my Maclean’s appearance.