What comes next? After the screen?
In the 20th century, anyone who could spend time in front of the television screen did so. At the start of the 21st century, everyone who can spends nearly all their awake time staring into a screen.
Apple, the world’s richest corporation, has their entire business model based on this! Waiting in a line? Stare at your iPhone. Out for a run? Look at your Apple Watch. Can’t sleep? iPad! At home with the family? Apple TV!
Never ever be not staring at a high-priced Apple screen. That’s Apple’s business model, right?
The screen extends life! The screen expands consciousness!
But what comes next?
Everyone now believes virtual reality becomes our next screen. But what after that?
Will humans ever live their lives not staring into screens all of the time?
Can we fathom human life without screens?
Might we one day gather around some Alexa future version, it’s telling us stories, entertaining us with jokes, always there, a comforting voice, an acknowledged presence, helping us choose right from wrong, making sure we understand the truth — as we…what?
Maybe a highly functional, highly personalized AI gets infused with a highly physical, very approachable, nearly human robot, lined with sensors for, well, everything. Will this AI-robot hybrid teach us? Entertain us? Fight us? Challenge us? Will it become more to us than all the screens?
If Giant Brain and Comfort Voice can take care of all our needs, the intellectual equivalent of having a Jimmy John’s sandwiched delivered to us, then the entire world of — literally, doing anything — avails itself to us. Maybe we search for the Ark of the Covenant. Initiate the equivalent of an Arthurian quest, year after year, on a global scale. Maybe we use sensors and AI and learn how to literally talk to the animals, working together, playing together, creating an entirely new earthly realm?
So what do we do?
Can we resurrect the equivalent of the 1960s space program? Where our very best, brightest and bravest happily sacrificed their lives to help get us to the moon? Perhaps a planet-wide effort to find actual advanced life and then go visit them? Yes, literally.
Right now, we’re all staring into screens all of the time, everywhere we go, no matter who we are with, and maybe there’s something that comes after that? But I just can’t imagine what.
Mother Teresa once said: “Each person you meet is Jesus in disguise.” But as our connected things become more like-human and as they take over more real-human functions, thinking, choosing, selecting, maybe each thing we meet will be Jesus in disguise? How we respond, every time, matters deeply. Might this then incite new forms of spirituality, of giving, sacrificing, revolting?
Will there be some tech that effectively places sensors on every cell, every strand of DNA, on every one of our individual brain bits, the data, the thoughts and feelings all able to be shared with those around us, who also have these sensors, and similarly shared with the world about us, itself likewise teeming with sensors? A new mode of feeling-thinking?
Will we soon look back and wonder how we ever spent so much of our life staring at and living inside screens? Or does it stay like now, where we can’t imagine life without a screen always nearby?
The evolution to screen life can’t be forever, else it’s our ever. The tree of life peaks. The universe reveals itself as nothing more than a hologram, no need, then, to advance, evolve, explore, it’s all here, all of it, before our eyes, swipe left, the end.
What comes next? After the screen? And will it be made by those living inside screens or those not?