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Siddhesh Sonawdekar

Things That Future Kids Will Not Experience

Whether you have fond memories of 8-track tapes, VHS Players, or CDs, there’s almost certainly some long lost piece of technology in your life that you don’t use anymore. Technology changes as the slow march of time goes on, and the changes in technology will inevitably change the society that uses that technology. As humans, our self-identity, both of our society and ourselves, are intertwined with the tools and technology we use. A person from the 1814 has very little in common with the average person walking around in 2014, and that fundamental difference is thanks to our relationship with technology. Once our technological capabilities change, our behaviour changes to accommodate our new existence, so naturally there are things we no longer do.

Here are the 10 Things That Future Kids Will Not Experience

#10 landlines


Landlines are on the verge of complete extinction. The opening entry, unlike some of the later ones, is actually quite easy to wrap your head around. Today, many people already see landline telephones as a quaint and unnecessary addition to the home. Although some of the older generation still prefer the comfort of their landline phone to their cellular one, most under 30 view landlines as a waste of money. Why pay for an extra line of communication – one that you can only access when at home – when there’s already a myriad of ways for people to reach you? There really isn’t a rational defense in support of the landline telephone that doesn’t rely simply on nostalgia and consumer preference for the way they used telephones as a youth. Kids today will look back on phones plugged into walls like we look at black and white televisions with ‘rabbit ears’.

#9 Cable Television


Even todays generation will forget the cable TV soon, why talk about next generation? There will always be television-like programming, but the method of distribution won’t be the same. You can already see the writing on the wall if you examine trends in the cable industry. More and more young adults, upon leaving the home, are foregoing cable television entirely in favor of online streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube. The ‘smart’ televisions of the future will just need an operating system and an internet connection. So don’t panic, there’s always going to be someone making great content like House of Cards and Game of Thrones, you just won’t have to pay to subscribe to dozens of channels you don’t watch to get what you do.

#8 Handwriting


Dont be surprised. Although handwriting is so ubiquitous it’ll never truly disappear from the human skill-set, it’s drastically decreasing use means that kids today will have some pretty sloppy handwriting. Long gone will be the days of fine penmanship and meticulous note taking by hand. When you can type on your computer and phone faster than you can write by hand, what’s the point? Soon enough the speech-to-text applications on phones will reach a very high level, and we’ll all be dictating what we want to write into our gadgets instead of actually writing it out ourselves.

#7 Physical Media


I repeat, dont be shocked. The disappearance of physical media began in the early 2000s with the MP3 player, but has spread to virtually all other forms of media that we consume. MP3s replaced CDs, eBooks are taking a bite out of book sales, and digital television/film and video game distribution have been established as the media distribution method of the future. Physical media will remain a niche, much like vinyl records, but digital will be the norm.

#6 Electrical Plugs


How many of us use this today? Surely you remember the dark age of the Internet – before wireless connections. We had to hook up our devices to 56kb modems through long pieces of wire. Now we plug that same wire into a router to create a Wi-Fi zone to connect to the internet. Well, similar technology is soon going to revolutionize electricity. Wireless power technology – which has made considerable progress in recent years – will allow the devices in your home and all of your gadgets (laptops, phones etc.) to charge automatically when in the presence of the wireless field. The future is truly wireless.

#5 Single Use Tools

one are those days when we used single tools. Think back to your father or grandfather’s workshop. There was, more likely than not, a million and one things lying around, some that maybe got used once. The beauty of software is that it allows us to configure one piece of hardware to be used for multiple things. Think of what your smartphone has replaced; a flashlight, a compass, maps, an audio recorder, a camera, the list goes on. Expect that trend to continue, especially as 3D printing takes off and resourceful individuals create the schema for new and revolutionary tools and distribute the open source files online. How about a microscope and telescope function for your phone? We’ll take it.

#4 The Retail Experience

It is not yet completely over, but it will be. 20 years ago, if you wanted to buy something, you had to find a brick and mortar store in your area that sold the product or go through some mail-order service. Today, if you’re looking for something particular, you just have to go online and have it delivered to your house – and it’s usually cheaper. More and more retail transactions will be done online, whether it be on the phone or on a computer. For those who forgo online shopping, the physical retail experience will be very different. Automated checkout reduces the need for employee contact and automated payment systems could one day make retail shopping as easy as walking in to grab something and walking out, then later checking your digital wallet to see how much you’ve been billed.

#3 Driving


Yes, blame automatic cars now. Self-driving cars are not just a part of the future; they’re very much a part of the present.  The technology exists, and once they navigate through the mess of regulation and red tape to get on the road, you can expect them to quickly become the norm. Self-driving cars will fundamentally change our relationship with the automobile. Sure, some people will want to buy their own, especially if they live in rural or distant suburban areas, but car ownership for urban dwellers will become kind of a joke. Why waste tens of thousands of dollars on a personal car when there is a swarm of self-driving taxis that are constantly circling the city (with significantly cheaper fare compared with human cab drivers who need to make a living)? Urban residents of tomorrow won’t own cars, they’ll just rent them.

#2 The Internet (as we know it)


It is very important to mention the Internet as we know today! The present Internet experience is centered around us navigating a browser or a GUI on a screen, but that isn’t really what the Internet is. The Internet is connectivity, and that connectivity doesn’t’ have to be driven by the human hand. The perfect example is Google Now and Siri on your smartphone; it gathers and collects information on how its user’s habits and location data, and then compiles and analyzes that information to give you suggestions. This is a prequel to the ‘internet of things’, connectivity between objects, the creation of the ‘smart’ everything. For children born today, the divide between the physical and digital world won’t be a screen – the divide won’t exist. Nearly everything will be connected to the Internet, at all times.

#1 The Human Monopoly on Intelligence


Humans are the most intelligent animals. The concept of artificial intelligence reaching a human level of intelligence is known as the singularity, and there is extensive research and discussion on the topic online. When the singularity arrives, humanity is no longer the only known intelligent form of life in the universe – we’ll have to share that stage with our AI creations. This, obviously, opens a massive can of worms. The AI beings will, over time, become vastly more intelligent than we are. Do we hand over the reins of our society to them? Do we even consider them people? Is biological life the only legally valid form of life? No one has a clue, and as a society we aren’t giving it nearly enough thought. Current estimates for when the singularity will occur range from 2017 to 2112, but the median date appears to be 2040. With that estimate, a baby born today will be 26 when he or she is replaced as the dominant form of intelligence on the planet. It’s a strange proposition to be sure, but given the exponential growth of processing power and technology, it’s one that we should be preparing for


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