Future Imperfect

The more we digitize, the more we expect digital precision.

We look at our iPads and the HD video thereon, and sometimes wonder at just how pristine and perfect it looks, right down to the blemishes (okay, acne) on actors’ chins. It’s astonishing.

The problem with reliability and crystal certainty is twofold. One, our inbuilt sloth slumps to apathy because we no  longer need to fix anything or work-around failures. Who repairs their own car any more? We turn the key or push the button and go. The effort is minimal.

Secondly, and more subtly, the very fact that so much is now done for us (auto correct, navigation, shopping, cooking) creates the expectation of the trend continuing. Soon enough, we won’t even have to decide which products we need to buy; our fridge will order the food, our cars will book themselves in for an oil change and the bed will wash the bedding.

Unfortunately for us, automating people isn’t any closer. Understanding others still requires time and work, and that’s just to get to the first few levels. Figuring how and whether someone new can fit into our individual character likewise is as far from perfection as ever – we’re really counter digital creatures.

Despite our cleverness at harnessing the world around us, some verities will remain true for a while yet. Until robots synthesize humour, empathy, insight, selflessness, willingness to overlook mistakes and a shared vision for a future together, we’ll be applying these human characteristics on our own.

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