The original Book Of The Future contained a page about Extra Sensory Perception. While I loved the picture of the ‘ESPER Battlecruiser’, and the description of its crew’s capabilities, I’ve always thought the whole spoon-bending thing was a bit of nonsense.
I remain sceptical of a human ability to read and influence minds remotely, at least at our current stage of evolution. But we are beginning to develop a kind of technological ESP.
Twitter has been defined as a social sixth sense. It’s a nice term and it gives non-users an idea of one of its main benefits: a constant awareness of the key events in your friends’ daily lives. But it does more than that.
Though I am relatively new to Twitter, it is fast becoming my primary source of media via links to interesting stories and videos. It is also beginning to have an impact on my diary, highlighting to me events I want to attend but didn’t previously know were happening. And this is just following twenty-odd people!
I believe that Twitter is just the beginning. I have written before about the ‘internet of things’ — the idea that some form of intelligence and connectivity will increasingly be a standard part of everyday objects. Everything from egg boxes to armchairs will be connected to the net and sharing the information it holds.
Imagine that intelligence being delivered to our brains in a way that doesn’t distract from our conscious acts, but that gives us an added level of peripheral vision about what’s going on in the world. The news feeds, social updates, and calendar reminders we set for ourselves today combined with dynamically generated information about the world around us. All the anecdotal examples we can think of today are pretty prosaic (car needing a service, milk being out of date, train running late) but history shows that all the best applications come once the platform is in place.
Sometimes we all suffer an overload of information, even with the current level of technology. So its easy to imagine today that this would all be too much. But human beings are evolving to match the built environment. I believe we will become better at processing large volumes of information concurrently (rather than being infantilised by technology as Baroness Greenfield has suggested).
Though I like my occasional analogue week, I find the idea of technological ESP really appealing.