In my formative years, I had experienced such things as Star Trek, and the advent of new games like Pong, Space Invaders and Asteroids. As I ventured out of college and into the Orwellian future of 1984, I began a 3+ decade long sojourn into the world of technology. I mused about the wondrous changes that these new-fangled gadgets would bring to all of our lives. Telescreens that connected us both visually and orally in real time. Big Brother. History could be rewritten. Technology would boldly take us where no one had gone before...

Hollerith cards were replaced with Teletypes, then CRTs and finally flat panel displays. You can still fold, spindle and mutilate a flat panel display; it just takes more effort.

Pneumatic tubes were replaced with email and finally text messages. Try as you might, there's simply no way to text someone a live critter.

Interactive Voice Response systems. Talking to a helpful customer service representative is no longer necessary now that we can listen to a recording droning on. After all, don't you just love doing a depth-first search through 17 sub-menus to get what you want?

ARPANET d/evolved into the internet. Google has eliminated the need to have bookshelves of manuals, or remember anything you've ever posted - because it's all there in perpetuity. Granted, a lot of it is filled with pron, but you don't actually have to look at it!

Programming languages. We went from assembly to FORTRAN to C to C++ to Java/.NET/... to scripting languages. While it's true that auto-GC'd languages make it easier to concentrate on what the program must do instead of interfacing with the machine, VB/PHP/Excel/etc. brought programming within reach of those who should not have it. COBOL lives on (as it turns out, the Enterprise does have a mainframe)

Communication. Snail-mail was slow. Email sped things along, but we got impatient so they invented texting. Apple leap frogged a great idea, but only for the truly nimble-fingered.

They still haven't gotten dictation-transcription to work properly; we're nowhere near the point of saying: Computer, build me a subroutine to... because the replicator would spit out a submarine.

Security: Challenge-response questions aren't a bad idea, but too often all the allowed questions can have multiple answers, which forces you to write the Q/A down and keep them nearby (I don't have an older cousin, neither of my parents has a middle name, my first pet was twins and the place I met my wife was in a village in a township in a district in a county).

Security: Requirements that vary wildly for the password-make-up, and change-frequency from system to system and company to company (requisite link). Hmm, 4-8/6-12 characters? Numbers/upper/lower case? Subsets of: ~!@#$%^&*()_+-={}[]:;"'<>,.?/) Change it every 4/6/8/12 weeks? Maybe I'll just go with the fail safe PostIt. FWIW: I haven't had to change the password on my bank ATM account in 35 years because I. Don't. Tell. It. To. Anyone.

Now that the government has shown that any device, no matter how secure, can be cracked, we must all realize that encryption, no matter how sophisticated, ain't cutting it...

Security: We could just write everything in Perl; it would be completely secure after 24 hours (even without encryption) as nobody (including the author) would be able to decipher it (missed opportunity).

Editors: edlin, notepad, vi: when they were all you had, they were a blessing. Notepad++, vim, IDEs, etc: big improvements. But with convenience comes dependency. I once had to edit a config file for a co-worker because they couldn't figure out how to edit it on a *nix production system where Emacs wasn't installed!

Smart phones allow you to concentrate on that all-important email/text/call instead of driving. You can play games (like Pokemon-GO) while behind the wheel, so you can crash into a police car.

Of course, how many times have you texted someone about something only to end up sending an auto-corrected variant (Sweetheart, I'm going to duck you tonight).

Smart cars allow your navigation system to blue screen at highway speeds. This happened to my CR-V, and the dealer told me to disconnect the main battery for 30 seconds in order to reboot the car.

The computer can also modify your input on the gas pedal to make the car more efficient. This sounds like a good thing. Unless you stomp the accelerator through the floor (clearly demanding all the power the engine can give) and the computer decides otherwise, which leads to some very WTF looks from the truck driver that almost pancaked you.

Smart appliances: we no longer need to pester our spouses because, while at the supermarket, we can now contact our appliances directly to see if we need this or that. This will inevitably lead to weekly security-updates for our cars and appliances (you know the day is coming when your fridge and coffee maker start to automatically download and install a Windows-10 update).

Games: from Conway's Life to Sim*, Tetris to Angry Birds, the assorted 80's video and arcade games, Wolfenstein/Doom/Quake/etc., and everything that followed. Games have drastically improved over time and provide tremendous entertainment value. They have yet to build a computer that can count the number of hours of sleep lost to these games.

Miniaturization: they spent zillions creating monstrously large flat panel TVs and then zillions more to get us to watch movies on our phones. After they spent zillions making stuff smaller, they flooded those smaller devices with ads for stuff to enlarge things.

These topics were chosen randomly while thinking back on my career and wandering around my house, and of course, there are many more, but rather than having made drastic improvements in our lives, the changes seem oddly even...

On the other hand, I don't recall Scotty ever having to download a Windows update, and Lt. Uhura never got a robo-call from someone in the Federation (Enterprise: if you would like a scan of the 3rd planet of the system in sector 4, press 3), so maybe the future will be brighter after all.

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