There’s a black rectangle, 124mm by 59mm by 8mm in my pocket which, all the way back home from work, keeps track of satellites in the sky and works out my position based on which ones it can talk to. When I get within range of the position I’ve marked as Home, it starts looking out for signals for my own private wireless network, which it organises a secure connection to. As it does that, notifies a program on my phone which, before I’ve reached the front door, asks if I want to put the kettle on. If I say so, it then talks to my kettle over the wireless network and asks it to boil to 100 degrees Celsius. Once that has happened, by which I’m inside and have taken my coat off, it notifies the device in my pocket, which in turn sends a low-power notification to my watch to inform me that the kettle’s boiled, and tea’s up.
Once I’ve made my cup of tea, I can sit down in front of a larger device, and talk to friends I’ve made over the last twenty years on the internet. Some I’ve never met, some I’ve met a couple of times, some I used to know well but have drifted out of contact with, and some I will see on Tuesday. I talk to and play games with my brothers, one in Kent – less than 50 miles away – and one in Thailand – nearly 6000 miles – with no noticeable gap in response than if they were talking to me here.
I can share files, photos, ideas and emotion with people from all over the world; and have their files, their photos, their ideas and emotions shared with me in turn.
It’s not a detachment from the world around us, it’s an attachment to the worlds around our friends. It’s not the recording of life overriding the living of it, it’s the sharing of life, and the outsourcing of memories outside of our frail and doomed bodies to more reliable storage, that we can find it again.
So when you say, when you think, when you express that the future promised rocket-cars and Mars bases, and that what you got was Twitter and Call of Modern Warfare; you should remember that with those you got international free video calls, entire world maps in the palm of your hand, instant access to more words than you can ever read, and articulated robot powered prosthetic arms.