life in and around NYC is insane

Friday, April 25, 2014

The future is here

This morning I walked into Dunkin' Donuts, placed an order for a muffin and coffee, opened the Dunkin' Donuts app on my smartphone and had to cashier scan a barcode, took my receipt and went on my way.

This seemingly innocuous transaction is actually a modern marvel.

I mean, my smart phone is not only a portable communication device, it is also a portable computer, media player, camera, GPS device ...

I can use  it to make a conventional phone call and also to video chat, I can screen my calls with its caller ID function, you can leave me a message if I don't answer when you call, I can text or email you if I don't feel like chatting...

My GPS apps allow me to map out a route, navigate along the way, and avoid traffic.  If I don't want to drive I can get a train schedule.  Other apps help me find restaurants and hotels, read reviews, even make a reservation.  When I get to my destination, I can shop on line for tickets to local attractions, take pictures of the things I've seen and send them to friends.

I can get news, sports and weather updates, I can read a magazine, even renew that digital library book I downloaded.

I can listen to the radio or my own music collection, I can watch a movie.  If there's a dispute about a song lyric or who appeared in a TV show, I can look it up while we're in the middle of discussing it.  I can play games; I'm becoming a Candy Crush expert.

I no longer need to carry an address book or a calendar, they're both in my phone.

I can get my information by typing standard English, or even with a voice command if I so choose.

All from a device I can carry in my pocketbook.  A device whose potential I know I have not fully explored.  a device more powerful than the computers that took the Apollo spacecraft to the moon and back.

All of this is so far beyond anything we could have imagined back in 1964, with our very futuristic World's Fair.  Why even when I graduated from high school, in 1978, "the computer" at my school took up an entire room, and we had to communicate with it by using a special computer language like Basic or COBOL.  Even in the early days of personal computers, you had to use DOS before you could get to more user-friendly programs.

Wow, the future has arrived.

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