I got a text from a long time friend just as I was sitting down to the huevos rancheros I ordered for brunch at my friendly neighborhood trendy restaurant.
He was on a weekend bicycling excursion to where we call The Center Of The Universe, Ashland,Virginia. Virtual Railcam LLC has a camera placed there, so that trainspotters like me can watch rail traffic at home. (Amtrak’s Northbound Silver Star #92 just passed by.)
He texted to let me know he just bought a cookie and would be riding by the webcam. I have known John since sixth grade. We were roommates our First Year at the University of Virginia. We live in the same town and communicate almost daily. Fifty-plus year continuing friendships are remarkable these days, but I could not have imagined receiving a text from him, then seeing him wave at me in a live image on a tiny handheld computer fifty four years ago.
The larger point I want to make is that assumptions we have about progress are being outpaced by that actual progress itself. We still cling to Nineteenth and Twentieth Century ideas about the world and exercise little scepticism about them. Malthusian ideas about population growth and food supply were advanced before mechanization, plant genetics, and animal breeding revolutionized agricultural productivity. Think about that.
Do we face a technological utopia or dis-topia? I don’t know. But our visions of the future say more about us today than they do about what tomorrow has in store.