Friday, January 20, 2012

Front to the Future

When I was a kid, I thought about living to the year 2000, which seemed impossibly far away. It never occurred to me that 2000 would once be considered the good old days. The actuarial tables of the time said the odds were I'd die in the year 2020, which was impossiblier farther away. Don't seem impossiblier anymore, but at this point I think that by 2020 I'll finally get my act together and start accomplishing stuff.

Me, 2012.

I've been thinking this morning about what my Android smart phone represents. Not many years ago, if you'd told me I could use a device smaller than Tom Cruise to do a thousand things, I'd have told you that you were crazier than Michele Bachmann... if, at that point, I'd ever had the bad luck to have heard of Michele Bachmann. I can Facebook or Twitter (while rationalizing Facebook and Twitter as verbs); take photos and send them around the world; catch up on email; listen to music; read whole books; translate from English to Korean or vice-versa (although I happen to know that"식 당" means "restaurant", not "per equation", as Google thinks); record my deathless thoughts (usually along the lines of "soy milk, bread, bananas"); zoom in on a map of Seoul; plot my subway route; and, most importantly, evaporate little green pigs with exploding irate, though naturally flightless, birds.

I've been told I could even make a phone call if I ever wanted to.

All this on a phone that was free and service that costs me a dollar a day. And I live in what many people say is the most wired city in the world. Here, everybody on the subway is mesmerized by their electronic devices and I'd worry whether the driver is paying attention to his job... but there isn't a driver. On the new subway line, you can look out the front of the computer-driven train and feel like Mr. Sulu as you zip through the tunnel. (I think I'd prefer a human driver, but at least the train is going to be tough to hijack.)

I know what we were all thinking back in the day: flying cars! But I've seen a lot of Koreans drive in two dimensions; I'd say the last thing we need is to add a third.

So, despite the melting polar ice caps and the career of Ke$ha, I've decided to spend the rest of my life in the future.


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