New Technology

If you're part of my generation, your great-great-grandparents could have told you how many electric devices they had in their house. Back then, electricity in the home was a new technology. If you owned something with an electrical plug, it was obvious.

It was obvious, because every time you wanted to use your electric mixer, you probably had to plug it into the ceiling. That's where the light socket was, and therefore your only source of power.

In the same way you might have once had to choose between using the internet and using your family's landline, people once had to choose between using their overhead light and their clothes iron.

How many electric devices are there in your home? You probably have no idea, because we don't think about them any more. Sure, you could figure it out, but electricity doesn't seem like technology anymore. We take it for granted.

Inventor Danny Hillis said, "Technology is everything that doesn't work yet."

How many computer chips are there in your home? That's probably an easier question for you to answer. The digital age is still emerging from its infancy, and computers don't quite work yet.

When was the last time you had to turn your toaster off and on again to get it to function correctly?

Analog radios, internal plumbing, lightbulbs – all of these things were new and unreliable once upon a time. But for the most part, they just work now.

When the solutions to our problems become so reliable they recede into the background of our lives, civilization takes a step forward.


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