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Opinion: We take some brilliant tech for granted way too often

By Alex Crossan
Thu 4 May 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Elon Musk talks as casually about space exploration as you or I would about the weather. Drones have somehow gone from death-dealing military weapons to toys used for taking real estate photos. We’ve stopped talking into our phones, and our phones are now talking to us.

The part that blows my mind is that it all feels so normal. Imagine how World War II would play out if they had message delivery equivalent to Facebook Messenger, or even email? Would JFK still be kicking around if the US government had access to even one small camera drone in 1963? What did people even do for fun before the internet?

Sometimes I feel like I need to take a step back and realise just how much we take technology for granted. Here are some things we should appreciate way more as we continue into the age of automation and futuristic tech.

Mobile Banking Apps

Seriously, how inconvenient would things be if you had to still go to an ATM or a bank every time you needed to do ANYTHING with your money. I recently had some cash laying around (not bragging) and my brain literally had to take 10 seconds to remember how to even get it into my bank account.

I pay my rent, transfer funds between accounts and monitor my Kiwisaver earnings all from an app. Oh yeah, all I need is a thumbprint to open it as well. When paying a friend back for a gig ticket the other day he informed me that you can pay directly to a mobile phone number. Why did I even memorise my bank account number?

Mobile banking apps seem like such a basic concept yet are more or less mandatory at this point - unless you like to live dangerously, and gamble on every transaction while not knowing how much money you have in your spending account.

Video Streaming Services

Let me begin by reminding you that Netflix is a widely accepted verb. Probably the only phrase uttered more times than “Netflix and chill” in 2016 was the prefacing question  “WYD” (what you doing?).

Those of you that fought the good fight in the illegal torrent trenches during the mid-to-late 2000’s should know how much of a blessing this technology is. You’d have to source a film, or often a single TV episode at a time, make sure the quality was acceptable (but not too high, because broadband was a shell of it’s current self) and then rely on other individuals  to help you download it.

We were gods. I knew people that ran successful businesses in high school supplying the more tech-impaired with the latest and greatest movies and TV series that wouldn’t air in New Zealand until the following year.

Now… everything is available on demand, at all times, anywhere. Remember watching a single episode of Friends each week, with ad breaks? Make sure to take some time to appreciate Netflix next time you load up your so-bad-it’s-good guilty pleasure at 3am.

Virtual/Augmented Reality

Pokémon Go took the world by storm in 2016, and it seemed as though everyone and their mother was out there trying to catch ‘em all. However, I feel like a lot of people didn’t appreciate how groundbreaking the game was. It was probably the first augmented reality application that got mass exposure to users at all levels, and for most people it was just another game on their dated iPhone with a cracked screen.

Take a step back and think about how insanely brilliant Pokémon Go is, or any augmented reality or virtual reality technology for that matter. I was at a smartphone launch event recently, and tried out a new virtual reality headset. I’d never used one before, and when I told the brand representative he looked at me like I was a freakin’ alien. Going off his reaction alone you’d think I had told him I had never worn shoes before. It was then that I realised how mainstream and taken for granted this sort of technology is.

Basically what I’m saying is, embrace the technology and don’t get left behind. It’s likely that a lot of futuristic tech is going to be mandatory for day-to-day living whether you like it or not. Might as well enjoy the ride, and don’t forget to marvel occasionally at how far we’ve come. Maybe I’ll see you on Mars when Elon Musk finally gets those economy space trips up and running (business class is a bit rich for my blood, even if it’s a 6 month trip).

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