I have a smartphone. Yeah, I know, so do millions of other people. So what's the big deal?
Yes, they've become commonplace and we're quickly being jaded to their presence, but they're still a fairly new addition to our lives. For me, they're overdue.
As a kid, I watched a lot of Star Trek (the original series). It was in syndication and there wasn't a lot of sci-fi competition on TV, so the show's status grew and became very influential. Still, not news, but my letters to Santa included requests for phasers and communicators. OK, maybe the phasers would've been irresponsible to hand to a ten-year-old, but did the big man come through on the communicators or what?
I predicted Bluetooth back then. Dick Tracy and his kind may have shown us the wrist radio (optional video) first, but I figured out that the better way to handle it was going to be having that easily accessible control unit and a wireless microphone/speaker in the ear. That system is now finally available, too. (anyone caring to send royalty payments may contact me through this sight for Paypal info)
Things change. I tried to explain to my teenager about personal computers that used to have 64K RAM, becoming organizers and watches, with more computing power than NASA used to get to the moon. His eyes glazed over. Oh, well.
Still, it's the smartphone that's achieving awesomeness. In Star Trek terms, they're becoming communicator/tricorder hybrids. In conventional terms, we have "large" cell phones/small tablet/mini-computers to carry around and help us through our days. The PDA of fifteen years ago might as well have been a Dayrunner by comparison. No, they're not perfect yet. We still have dropped calls and signal coverage issues and I don't think the Klingons are behind it. Kirk could carry on calls from half a mile underground with the orbiting Enterprise. I guess I could say we'd been misled about our mobile communication future, but we haven't quite made it to the 23rd century yet.
I'm eager to see what's next.
Small laser-based scanning units have been developed to analyze the molecular structures of objects at a distance. To me, sounds like all we've been missing to make a tricorder.
Cybernetic micro-electronic components are being created with increasing frequency to be incorporated into living nervous systems. Cybernetic remote control and telepathy shouldn't be too far off. Neither should medical monitoring and modification be something we're waiting long to see as it seems that new uses for nanotechnology are being experimented with every week.
A friend and I are waiting to see the Playstation 9 offered as a package of nanites that will be inhaled and integrate themselves into the user's biology, allowing for virtual reality and augmented reality functions, communication and play. We'll have forced our own synthetic evolution to handle our smartphone functions, and anything else we use computers for, directly through our brains. That big cyber data cloud floating in the internet ether will become part of the collective consciousness. Of course, there may be a certain percentage of seizures and/or hemorrhages and other neurological side effects, but perfection is a path. The road to Singularity (human fusion with technology) is likely to be as bumpy as any of our significant advancements have ever been.
Let's face it, we still lose control of fire on a daily basis and look at how long we've been playing with that. Anything we cook up is likely to have hazards to go along with any benefits. We should certainly be used to it by now. We don't live in a padded world. Fortunately, we learn from pain and failure. That means, however things work out with our next bold steps, we should manage some measure of progress as long as there are survivors to figure out the next step.