On January 1, 2016, the Southern Fried Science central server began uploading blog posts apparently circa 2041. Due to a related corruption of the contemporary database, we are, at this time, unable to remove these Field Notes from the Future or prevent the uploading of additional posts. Please enjoy this glimpse into the ocean future while we attempt to rectify the situation.
The Persistent Technology revolution was a promise unfulfilled.
Technology was liberation. It provided access to education. It connected the world. It created systems that freed us from the harshest injustices in life. That, at least, was the promise uttered by breathless technocrats as they pocketed unimaginable profits from glorified toys for the rich and built ever-widening gaps between those who have, and those who have nothing.
The microprocessor was the equalizer. When our computers, cars, toasters, and power tools were all controlled by by the same underlying architecture, hardware becomes trivial. Upgrade the operating system and your tablet becomes an entirely new device. Continuously improving software would save us from the scourge of electronic waste–the piles of obsolete circuitry slowly leaching metals into the earth or releasing uncounted hydrocarbons into the air as they burn. The “cloud” would be freedom.
Companies began capitalizing on the nascent demand for “Persistent Technologies”, promising cars that would last 20 years and appliances that would outlive their owners (readers of a certain age might smugly note that that kind of longevity existed long before the consumer electronics revolution). Persistent Technology was heralded as the most important environmental innovation in half a century. People lined for weeks to be the first to receive the Forever Phone. The Tesla Infinite had a backorder of over 350,000 units. Persistent Technology would liberate the public from the expense of disposable electronics and save the world from the environmental disaster that those throw-away devices triggered.
It was a fad. (more…)