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Beacon Senior News

Technology to control your world

Jan 30, 2018 12:12AM ● By Adam Cochran

Research project Highly automated driving on highways - Dr. Nico Kämpchen on a test drive (08/2011)

The Las Vegas strip is designed by commercial psychologists to mesmerize its visitors, forcing them to lose track of time and enticing them to act on their inhibitions. When 65,000 electronics vendors descend on the strip to present their wares to buyers, media and other industry professionals, adding their own flashing lights, celebrity appearances and seductive visuals, the effect can be overwhelming.

This was my eighth trip to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which takes place every January. I used to have a weekly radio talk show about technology and visiting CES was the highlight of my year. This year, I went specifically looking for tech that would appeal to BEACON readers.

In the coming months, I’ll write about specific products and technologies I saw at the show. But this month, I’d like to talk about two words that kept coming to mind as I wandered the show floor and talked to countless strangers about the future of technology.

Tech of the future

“Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe gave a TED talk in which he explained how a classics professor he once had used to hammer the words “anagnorisis” and “peripeteia” into the noggins of his class. Anagnorisis is the wonder and process of discovery. Peripeteia, or peripety, is the sudden jarring awareness that often comes when your brain starts putting the pieces together—the Bruce-Willis-has-been-dead-this-whole-time moments.

Those are the two words I found jammed into my own brain as I looked at drones, 360 cameras, artificial intelligence technology and too many wonders to count.

Each year I’ve attended CES, I’ve left with a good sense of what the next 5-10 years will be like. While there are always new things to see, the trends are generally the same—bigger TVs, smaller microchips, more powerful computers, etc. This year was different.

Technology has always been a tool for increasing efficiency for both work and play, but the new trend is to increase efficiency of living. Instead of building technology that allows you to remotely control your world, the industry now creates systems that control your world without you being involved at all.

The new objective is to augment every task you perform on a regular basis, such as driving, buying groceries, setting your thermostat, going to the doctor, standing in line and even sleeping.

Should you be scared?

No. There will be a few unsettling moments of peripety along this road of anagnorisis, but innovation is disruptive by both nature and design. Rather than worry, it’s probably best to take a cybernetic nap while your washing machine orders your next box of Tide, your humidifier begins to prepare for the moisture that’s coming in two days, and your furniture arranges itself for your company that’s coming this weekend.