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Monday, December 5, 2016

The "Stop The World ... I Want To Get Off!" Story

It was an ordinary day. 1999 and I had just retired from teaching Industrial Arts at Manheim Township High School.  I was elated, joyous, but yet sorrowful for I would never have the chance again to teach some of my favorite subjects in a high school setting: graphic arts and photography.  I had taught film photography when that was all there was.  Well, I guess I should tell you that the digital camera was invented in 1975 with the first cameras having 10,000 pixels.  As for me, the day after I retired I retired my film camera also and have only taken digital photos from that day forward.  Poor Kodak Company had 170,000 employees a year before I retired and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide and within a few years had declared bankruptcy.  At first it was a big disappointment to me, since film photography was all I had known and taught for over 33 years, and now it was obsolete.  It succumbed to the Exponential Age which refers to a dynamic Internet, knowledge and information technology coupled with massive and quick developments rendering current technologies obsolete.  It was like living in a totally new Industrial Revolution.  I often think the older I get I will be lost in all the new technologies, and it may be, but so far I feel I haven't been too overwhelmed.  Within the next decade new software will be developed that will change our lives forever.  Uber is not really a taxi company.  They are a software tool without any cars just as Airbng is the biggest hotel company but doesn't own a single building.  Wasn't too long ago that "Watson" beat both Manheim Township grad Brad Rutter as well as Ken Jennings.  Today, through the use of computers, you can get legal advice within seconds with 90% accuracy compared to advice from humans which is perhaps 70% accurate.  "Watson" already is helping diagnose cancer more accurately than humans.  Facebook has software that can recognize faces better than humans. It has been said that by 2030 computers will become more intelligent than humans. Now that's really scary!  I have read that self-driving cars will appear in another year and by 2020 you won't even need to own a car.  Pick up the phone, a car will arrive and take you to your destination.  Call for the car on you phone and pay for the ride by using Bitcoin which is a form of computer money.  There will no longer be a need for parking lots so more green space will be available to the public.  Car companies owned by Tesla, Apple and Google will put the others out of business.  Car insurance companies will more than likely go out of business.  Solar power will outpace any other type of energy and fresh drinking water will be available to everyone.  Remember the "Tricorder" that was on Star Trek.  Everyone will have access to one that will scan your retina, take a blood sample and breath sample and then analyze it to see what disease you may have.  World class medical analysis will be available to everyone.  Two years ago I wrote a story about visiting Manheim Township High School to watch their technology department operate their new 3-D printer.  They now have several of the printers which will be able to print body parts in the future.  Shoe companies already use 3D printers to make shoes.  Soon you will be able to control your own 3-D printer with you smartphone.  Actually, you will be able to operate and access EVERYTHING with your smartphone.  In a few years there will be an app that will be able to tell when you are lying just by your facial expressions.  And, through your smartphone, you will be able to access education anywhere in the world.  Scary?  I'm petrified!!  I call my granddaughter to help me when I have a problem with my computer.  And, I don't want to give up driving.  Now, I wouldn't mind making my own shoes with my own 3-D printer, or even making a new body part for those that are quickly wearing out.  But, I wouldn't mind heading back into the darkroom from time to time to make my own black and white prints in a developing tray.  You know how much fun that is to see the image appear magically in front of your  eyes.  Guess that will never happen again.  So sad!!  Technology isn't always the best answer to everything!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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