Above image credit.

Excerpted from The Future of You (2014) by Lesley Scott

  • 90% of us are never more than three feet away from our smartphones & cellphones 24/7
  • 70% would give up booze for a week rather than the phone
  • 53% check the phone after going to bed
  • 49% of married moms would give up their engagement ring rather than part with the phone
  • 40% would spend the night in jail before giving up social media accounts
  • 28% would give up seeing their significant other for a week rather than go without their Apple gadgetry
  • 25% would give up sex for a year in order to keep their tablets
  • 21% would spend a week without shoes over a week without the phone
  • 15% would give up the car before their tablet



“My view of the future is that we will merge with the machines,” predicts futurist Ray Kurzweil, the Director of Engineering at Google and author of several books, including The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity is Near. And given the way we obviously crush on our gadgets, Kurzweil’s assumption isn’t that unreasonable.[ii]



Indeed, where is the line that separates us from our machines? With our personal tech and gadgetry, we left the just-friends zone behind more than a few updates ago. In Japan, for example, it’s common practice to cherish the gadgets you buy, take good care of them, accessorize them quite fashionably and treat them like a beloved friend. And the machinery returns the favor, from vending machines which chit-chat with you in up to 13 dialects & 4 major languages about the weather (they are constructed with thermometers built in) to the beloved cartoon character “Uncle Bow” who shows up on signs posted at a construction site to apologize for the noise & dust – while bowing – to an anime character that smiles (and bows) and talks you through your ATM transaction.[iii] Macheads even spend time composing haiku: You guys still make Macs? Enough with the iPhone crap! Our wallets grow cold.[iv] We crush on our machines to the point of obsession. And machines are something Kurzweil’s employer has been busy buying. Google went on a six month shopping spree in 2013, acquiring eight robot companies. The acquisition that really seemed to raise concern and bloggy buzz was Boston Dynamics, maker of futuristic, military-grade robots (with millions in US military contracts).


gagaCombine natural language understanding with a consciousness and you get something that, at its core, is about “ideas and information,” observes Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of Wired and author of What Technology Wants. In the same way that the essence of life is expressed in the intangible ways we organize our energy and information, when you think about it, so is the essence of technology. “Both life and technology seem to be based on immaterial flows of information,” continues Kelly. “If a thousand lines of letters in UNIX qualifies as a technology (the computer code for a web page), then a thousand lines of letters in English (Hamlet) must qualify as well. They both can change our behavior, alter the course of events, or enable future inventions. A Shakespeare sonnet and a Bach fugue, then, are in the same category as Google’s search engine and the iPod: They are something useful produced by a mind.”[v]



And mind, consciousness, is where Google seems to be headed. Assuming they achieve this goal, how will this entity experience the world? The way we experience the world is through our bodies. What we experience physically gives rise to our feelings. Feelings are then categorized by the brain and assigned an emotion.[vi] We exist in the world and therefore we feel. Why wouldn’t an e-conscious entity desire the same? We’re already establishing a strong precedent in the way we embrace our machines. “Technology is shrinking and by the 2030s, intelligent machines will be the size of blood cells and we will have millions of nanobots in our bloodstream augmenting our immune system and going into our brain and extending our thinking into the cloud,” continues Kurzweil. “The nonbiological portion of our intelligence will rapidly expand exponentially so by the 2040s we we be almost entirely non-biological. So we will become the machines.”[vii]


i from DOT COMPLICATED: Untangling Our Wired Lives by Randi Zuckerberg (HarperOne, 2013) via http://katiecouric.com/features/excerpt-from-dot-complicated/
ii http://www.kurzweilai.net/ask-ray-human-and-robot-rights-in-the-future
iii Morinosuke Kawaguchi, Geeky-Girly Innovation: A Japanese Subculturalist’s Guide to Technology and Design via http://fashiontribes.typepad.com/fashion/2012/07/why-the-hello-kitty-factor-in-japanese-design-is-good-for-grown-ups-too.html
iv http://www.maclife.com/article/mac_haiku v Kelly, pp.19-20. full text: http://www.lynnyang.co/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/What-Technology-Wants.pdf
vi The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life, Joseph LeDoux – http://www.cns.nyu.edu/ledoux/the_emotional_brain/book_tics.htm
vii http://www.kurzweilai.net/ask-ray-human-and-robot-rights-in-the-future

Lesley Scott
Lesley Scott is editor of Fashiontribes.com, a top longtime indie blog about style & author of The Future of You (2014). She is an eccentric 5.0 Fashion Futurist who uses the lens of the fashion tribes to grok the deep trends and hot technologies shaping pop culture today & tomorrow. She is also a Channel Curator for Sulia.com and a regular contributor to Answers.com. As host of the offbeat Fashiontribes Daily podcast, she delves into everything from the intersection of biology & fashion, to the Singularity & transhumanism, cyborgs, bionics, the aggressive rise of crafts and handmade stuff, futuristic bling...and just enough zombies to keep things interesting.