TechMunch: Technology through the ages – or how tech will change us all

My mid-life moment happened only recently. I was, for the first time in my life, offered a seat on the train. He was a callow youth, not much more than late twenties to early thirties in age.

My eyes narrowed and my lips curled as I politely declined his offer to rest my infirm and broken body. He was one of those Millennials; the accursed youths who are set to take my job and my future.

‘I’m not quite ready for that, yet,’ I explained tensely.

It was only on reflection that I understood the incident as an amorous pass towards a silver fox who had taken his eye. There could be no other reason for his brazen approach. Still got it Tony…

In reality, I’m bored of reading and writing about Millennials. This recent article in The Guardian set to clarify some of the myths surrounding the younger generation. Today, they make up only a third of the workforce. The reason there is so much interest in them is that Generation X (my generation, if you must know) is due to fall off a cliff.

By 2020, Millennials will make up three-quarters of the workforce – typically those born after 1983. In a few short years, there will be a remarkable turnaround. Some youth, far from offering to give up his or her seat, will be demanding mine…

But in many ways, Millennials are no different from previous generations who have come before. It was, after all, my generation who discovered the internet, coding and Jet-Set Willy. My pre-teen daughter keeps me up to speed on the latest street talk and I can abbreviate like a true hero (imo).

But there is little doubt that technology will profoundly change us all, one way or the other, and whatever generation.

In the 1980s we came up with the term ‘Repetitive Strain Injury’ or RSI, to explain away the muscular pain from pushing a computer mouse all day. While that term has largely disappeared, ‘Texting Thumb’ has replaced it based on the constant need to communicate with friends and family all day.

In fact, social anthropologists have also predicted that future generations will go on to develop extra- large thumbs to compensate for the advanced use they get by our current generation. It’s a kind of Darwinian Origin of the Species for the digitus pollex. It’s already happening with Swiper’s Thumb, says the Times of India, where one digit is becoming bigger than the other. It’s only a matter of time before evolution takes over and we’ll be born with an innate ability to text and swipe.

But that is, of course, if we don’t forget how to physically hook up with the opposite sex, when we are so hooked on our virtual relationships.

Japan is one society where dwindling birth rates has led to a demographic crisis. According to studies, the demands of work or society is leading to the collapse of relationships. Lack of self-esteem, a desire for emancipation, the ease of access to on-line pornography, coupled with the rise of social-networking, is leading to the collapse of real physical relationships. And hence babies.

Why bother, when you can also get amorous with a robot? After all, they can be programmed to share the same interests, never answer back and be as compliant as necessary. Plus you’ll never have to pay for child support.

Pundits are already predicting the rise of robot brothels, where we can pay for the companionship we have lost with humans.

It’s not necessarily a good idea, as it could lead to a moral de-skilling whereby it is easier to talk to a robot than your other half. At times, it can be hard to tell (imo). Whatever happens, society is getting older and we are not replacing the worn out parts fast enough for a natural replacement rate.

Next time I’m offered a seat, I’ll mention that to my benefactor. Come to think of it, next time I’m offered a seat, I may just take it, before my very human knees need replacing – just like my very human father’s knees needed replacing before mine.

It runs in the family apparently, if we were still able to run. It’s time for some robotic limbs – they can rebuild us…for a lot less than $6m these days.

So, amen to progress, the age of technology, and the days when I no longer have to stand on my evening commute home.

Tony Brown, Senior Media Consultant, Technology