Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Future According to Microsoft

While many in the world seems to be preoccupied with bad news and economic turmoil, it is good to keep our minds up and anticipate a future that does hold lots of promises, if we can just imagine....... imagine ......imagine .......... One company is doing that and more can do the same. While it is nothing really out-of-this-world, it is a creative extended look at what our current technologies can do more of. As of every kind of technologies, we can only get most out of what we put in, or in geek terms, GIGO or (Garbage In Garbage Out).

Thanks to Geekbrief.tv for the publicity. Hint: Start with the first video, and then choose which sector of interest if you want to see more.

(A) The Future of Technology (1:54)
<br/><a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=a517b260-bb6b-48b9-87ac-8e2743a28ec5" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage">Video: Future Vision Montage</a>
"Most of the advances tend to be touch-based."

(B) The Future of Banking (2:49)
<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-GB&playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:674141e5-4c50-4f37-bc62-f6674059f1c2&showPlaylist=true&from=shared" target="_new" title="Banking Future Vision">Video: Banking Future Vision</a>

(C) The Future of Health (4:07)
<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-GB&playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:083e1117-9f61-40e1-aea4-b31e7baa8f13&showPlaylist=true&from=msnvideo" target="_new" title="Health Future Vision">Video: Health Future Vision</a>

(D) The Future of Manufacturing (3:26)
<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-GB&playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:5bea2f16-b173-41ee-ba2e-5ab3484b4cbb&showPlaylist=true&from=msnvideo" target="_new" title="Manufacturing Future Vision">Video: Manufacturing Future Vision</a>
"I like the way that one can take notes immediately off the digital board. "

(E) The Future of Retail (2:27)
<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-GB&playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:8d7a2ef7-84cf-4daf-9a4d-2531c273f756&showPlaylist=true&from=msnvideo" target="_new" title="Retail Future Vision">Video: Retail Future Vision</a>
"This is amazing, especially the quick feature for labeling the individual prices of the products."

My General Comments
Note how people interact frequently with their gadgets. We are already trying to cope with minimizing interruptions in our daily human interactions with ringing cellphones and emails etc. Could this worsen the situation? The technologies do make things more efficient and colorful. Presentation is more crisp and sharp. Yet, the possibilities require a lot more rebuilding from the ground-up. Will that lead to more waste, when people rush to get the newest and casting out the old. There is also a scary concern that technology can further accentuate the paradigm that 'new is good; old is bad.' Unfortunately, while 'new is better' may work for technology, there are many other things that are not, like wisdom.

In summary, these series of videos are too lopsided toward images and touch. Remember that there are 5 basic human senses, and for some a 6th?



Rosie Perera said...

I haven't watched all the videos yet, but I was intrigued to see that in Microsoft's view of the future, people will still walk into a bank brank and interact with a human being when getting a loan. Handshakes are not a thing of the past, according to this vision.

But yes, I do have concerns about the amount of visual stimulation in such a world, and the emphasis on touch only as a way of manipulating information and images, rather than a way of sensing textures and temperatures. It looks like a world where being in control is the number one priority.

While I'm sure there are wonderful benefits to being able to cure diseases and identify plants instantaneously with technology (as one of the segments in the first video showed), gone is the hallowed sense of time, and the loving interaction with the created world. Everything is mediated through a gadget. When the stethoscope was first invented, people shuddered at the thought that doctors would no longer be listening directly to patients' chests and diagnosing by physical touch, but there would be this new-fangled technology intervening between them. That is much less personal care. We've come far beyond that now, and it looks like it's only going to get better/worse in the future. There are always trade-offs for improved living conditions.

There's no doubt that some of this vision of Microsoft's will become a reality. But will we Christians be at the forefront of making sure the new technology is as human-friendly as possible, or will we take a back seat and let it be "done unto us" and then only have the option of avoidance vs. wholehearted adoption of the new technology?

YAPdates said...

I'm totally with you when you talk about the high level of discomfort among modern people surrounding the element of mystery. Technology thrives on seeing everything as a problem to be solved.

Like money, technology cannot buy everything, but nearly everything smells of technology right now. The multiple arms of the technology machine are long and even treacherous. An unsuspecting user may unwittingly sleep face down into the dark technological tentacles.

There are benefits as long as we know the limits of technology. When man loses that understanding of limits, that will usher in the beginning of a bleak future as envisioned by people such as Neil Postman and Jacques Ellul.

Christians should do their part to avoid that from happening.


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