Speed of Life

When I was just a tiny bundle of pestilence, hardly anyone had a landline phone. Nobody had central heating except for schools and other public buildings. They ran it from a coke-fired boiler, usually, with massive cast-iron radiators. There are still a few of those around but there are few, if any, still in use.

Heating at home was a coal fire in the living room, cooking had just passed the ‘fire’ stage so we had a ‘proper’ cooker although the kitchen was heated in winter by firing up the old cast iron range. I don’t recall my mother ever using that for cooking. I remember being repeatedly warned to stay away from it.

I remember our first television. It had a tiny monochrome screen and it was in the kitchen. I’m not sure if that was because the ‘rabbit ears’ aerial only worked there or whether my parents didn’t want it in the living room. Anyway, we had it in time to watch the beginning of Dr. Who in 1963. It took about 50 more years, when I got those first episodes on DVD, before I realised that most of the Daleks were just painted on the walls.

My parents had a tape recorder. It was the size of a small suitcase and used big reels of tape. Nobody had a video camera, although I do remember ‘Super 8’ cameras that rolled a strip of film wheich then had to be developed and you needed a projector and screen to see it.

Still cameras used rolls of film that you had to wind forward to the next frame, then take it to the chemist to get it developed and printed. I still have cameras like that and fortunately I have darkroom equipment because finding a photographic shop that even recognises a roll of film is difficult now.

There was no way to record a TV program. If you missed it, you missed it. There weren’t too many of them anyway, and you had BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. That was it.

I remember the invention of cassette tapes. Then came those Walkman tiny portable cassette players. They were expensive, now they are museum pieces. Likewise the laserdisc, VHS and Betamax battle for recorded films. It was 1980 before I first saw a VHS player/recorder. I didn’t own one until 1985. Video cameras became available about that time, if you had a lot of money and a good strong arm to hold the thing. They became smaller over time until they disappeared altogether, to be replaced by hard-disk tiny videocameras.

I remember watching ‘Tomorrow’s World’, that old show about flying cars and monorail trains and all sorts of wonderful future machineries. The CD was the only thing they showed that actually came true, I think. The CD is long gone, replaced by the DVD which is soon to be replaced by Netflix and other streaming services.

Vinyl records fell to the CD and now we have music streaming services too. No more shelves of tapes or disks, you just tap in your selection and it plays.

All these things are now on your phone. You don’t need a bulky music system, just a Bluetooth speaker system linked to your phone. You can read books and watch films on your phone. You can have a camera at your front door so you can see who’s there – on your phone – even if you’re not home. You can control your heating remotely to warm up your house before you get home. You can even speak to other people with it if you can work out how. That’s a long way from the ‘press button A’ phone in the phone box I remember at the end of the street.

Is there a point to all this? Well, consider. In sixty years I have seen inventions come and go, I’ve seen the telephone move from a box at the end of the street to a device that does everything and which almost everyone has in their pocket. My starting point was fire as the only source of heat, now everyone is terrified of a wisp of smoke. I started when playing a song meant lining up a needle with a groove in a plastic disc, now it’s just a matter of tapping a few buttons and you can get the video too.

This, today, is the starting point for modern children. They will look at a floppy disc from the 1990s and think someone has 3D-printed the ‘save’ icon. When I started life, computers cost millions and filled whole rooms and had a tiny fraction of the computing power of a cheap modern phone. My first computer was a Sinclair ZX-81 in 1981 and you had to type in programs in BASIC then save them to cassette tape. It had a massive 16 kilobytes of memory. No internal or external drives, just the cassette.

Even that seemed amazing at the time. This tiny box held considerable computing power. Imagine how impressed I was with Amstrad’s later PCs, and those 2 Mb hard drives. Ten years after the ZX-81 I bought a 286 with 512 Mb internal memory and a 30 Mb hard drive. So much computing power, so much storage space! You couldn’t even get a modern operating system into it now. The advances in those ten years – and since – have been incredibly fast.

Anyone remember daisywheel printers? Basically, an electric typewriter linked to a computer. If you want a different font you have to change the typing wheel. Then dot matrix, then fantastically expensive laser printers, now you can get a colour printer with scanner and wifi so you don’t even need a wire… for about £30. Sometimes it’s even cheaper to buy another printer than to replace the ink cartridges.

Think about the world you started in and then consider what modern children are starting with. To them it’s normal to have a supercomputer in their pocket. They will grow up with the normality of contactless payments with their cards. That’s a step too far for me, I don’t like it, but to those young now it will be normal.

They will look at vinyl records and record players in museums and marvel at the primitive sound systems of the ancient past. They will scoff at the way ancient peoples had their film and music collections on separate discs instead of having it all available to anyone, any time. They will not understand how we could have filled our houses with books when all they need do is tap in a title and read it on screen. We will become the Ancient Ones in a couple of decades, possibly while we are still alive.

They will not understand how all those things can be restricted, censored and changed at any moment, while the fixed versions could not be.

They will delight in getting those chips implanted. I would absolutely refuse any kind of chip implant for any reason. If I worked somewhere that required I be chipped to, say, open a security door, I’d want to know what happens if I move to another job. Do they dig it back out? I can easily hand back security cards, I cannot easily hand back an implanted chip.

To the modern child though, it will be normal. As they grow, they will have everything implanted. It will not seem at all sinister or strange to them. Why risk losing your contactless card? Have it implanted. That, I think, is where it will start but not where it will end.

So, how far fetched is the world of Panoptica? How far fetched is the medichip that transmits your medical information, including mood, to a central monitor? Can it ever happen?

It’s already begun.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

If I have that right, clicking on the video should play it here.

The children see nothing wrong with wearing those headbands except that they are uncomfortable. Implanted chips will solve that problem.

There are so many other things that today’s children are being brought up to see as normal. Adults rebel against these things but to a child, it’s just part of their world. They will accept it. They won’t know any other world. Just as I could not know the world of my grandmother, born before the invention of the automobile, never mind the Wright Brothers. She saw the world move from horses to cars to planes to landing on the moon. I suppose every generation will see an equivalent massive shift in humanity’s abilities – and moralities.

I wonder what the children will see? And I wonder whether it will be good or bad.

____

No competition this time, I still can’t get to a post office to send the prize from the last one. So here’s the answer.

31 thoughts on “Speed of Life

  1. As well as refusing to be microchipped, I fully intend to decline the offer of any ‘compulsory’ coronavirus vaccination. Not only is it likely to be ineffective, it will likely be dangerous, especially if it appears any time soon, and it is said (don’t know if it’s true) that they will be able to adapt it to track us.

    A cashless society is an obvious next big stage in our domestication into the world system of the Beast. It must be resisted, especially by those of us with grey hairs (and beards) nearing retirement age, although it’s trying to outrun us. “What did you say about the government? No more pension ‘credits’ for you.”

    The American colonists rebelled because they had taxation without representation. Not only is it the same here today to all intents and purposes, but there’s so much more to rail against. Much worse things than tax. ‘Compliance’ is one of the big buzz words. I was speaking to a woman yesterday who was starting a business and she said she had to do a course in PCI compliance. What a load of old totalitarian tosh. I think most people will line up and ‘comply’ with anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I won’t accept a rushed vaccine either. I’ve been pumped full of vaccines as part of the job but they were all thoroughly tested. Never trusted the flu vaccines though.

      We’re overtaxed and will soon have our third King Charles. Here we go again. I hope Mrs. Queen outlasts me, I really do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • A lot of Health Professionals do not trust the flu vaccine either even though they come under a lot of pressure to take it.

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        • I’ve always refused it.

          The one I thought most pointless was the rabies vaccine I had to get before visiting China. When I got there, they’d eaten all the dogs.

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  2. I’m so old that what sticks in my memory about Tomorrow’s World is/was Velcro! I’m sure some TWophile will be able to tell me when that was: it certainly was not yesterday..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A lot of what is going on here with implantable chips is techno-morons not listening to wiser heads, such as the likes of Bruce Schneier and Kevin Mitnik. You define a secure system not by how it works, but how it fails and an implantable chip for identification is basically fail-onna-stick.

    You read an implantable chip using an RFID reader. The chip isn’t powered so can only spit back the one code when the circuitry is powered by the transmitted radio signal. Basically, as soon as you forget the implanted part, this is nothing more than a swipe card in terms of security, indeed it is LESS SECURE than a swipe card because someone can remotely read the implanted chip without the person actually knowing.

    Then what? Your implant chip has been compromised; either it needs re-coding or digging out and another one implanting. A few times round the block on that one and people will get fed up of huge scars from digging out yet another compromised implant chip; conversely if a chip can be remotely reprogrammed, then reading the value off it and recoding it all in one operation becomes a lovely way of compromising a supposedly secure building.

    That trick would work even better if some form of combined physical and cyber-attack were conducted against the target at the same time as compromising ID chips. This is a common tactic now: lead with a DDOS internet attack to occupy and swamp the monitor systems, then start actively trying to break in. For an ID chip compromise, send the thief in just ahead of the unknowingly-compromised person, and get someone’s rent-a-mob to initiate a riot just after the thief enters the building.

    The thief then gets in, the unknowing dupe tries to get in, gets challenged by security and starts a fuss because they’re supposed to be authorised. Security try to stop him entering because he’s not authorised, and the rent-a-mob helps to concentrate security at the door, not elsewhere. Perfect cover for a spot of infiltration and planting of network compromise devices.

    And all of this was made possible by crap, stupid security.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder… Shops use RFID stickers to set off an alarm if you try to steal something. The tills can shut down the sticker so it won’t set off the alarm. They just pass it over the till and it double-beeps to tell them the RFID is inactivated.

      How likely is it that a till operator’s implanted chip would be shut down during every shift? That could get interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In the 1950s my first job was a ‘Youth in Training’ with the Post Office Telephones. I usually worked at a Telephone Exchange in Finchley. On summer, to cover for holidays, I had to work at another Exchange. I was amazed to find that the Technicians there were spending most of the day making a converters so that BBC TV sets could receive ITV.
    A very valuable sideline for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Press button B in a phone box was sometimes more rewarding as someone elses penny might come out.

    I switch my smartphone off and leave it in the car since I know it spies on me, without having said “hey g00gle” g00gle maps will spring into action if I discuss how to get from A to B with someone.

    You forgot the technically superior Phillip’s 2000 video system. I still have an old TB-VHS combo which comes in handy when the tech fails, retro Mad Max BHS weekend.
    Didn”t they try chipping regulars of some nightclub whose members were happy to be disfigured for the sake of not having to produce ID, was some years ago but reportedly successful.
    Compulsory chipping will start with the pedos, then other nonces followed by anyone out on licence. How the public will cheer, and then the vulnerable: mental health victims, recovering victims of substance abuse, let’s not forget the children oh and the old people.
    Soon the rest of us will be a minority and will have to explain why we are so special.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A couple of months ago I was watching some short documentaries on YouTube which might fascinate and interest you. They’re from a channel called Technology Connections and concern older technologies, e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyKRubB5N60 which is about Sony’s Betamax VCR system. There are plenty of others to delve into and it’s an easy Rabbit hole to fall into. My favourite was probably about the development of Trinitron.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The kids will be streaming all their stuff to their phones and paying everything with their implanted Barclaycards and everything will be wonderful, Then our society will finally achieve net zero…

    And a large anti cyclone will settle over Europe in January and all the windmills will stop and all the batteries will run out and all the 7G masts will stop and the router won’t work and the tills won’t work and even if we still use cash, the cash machines won’t work.

    The riots and looting will be epic.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When our black & white telly would go on the blink my Dad would take the back casing off and point a lead pencil to the rear of the cathode ray tube causing it to arc sparkly, problem solved for a few hours.
    (He was WW2 RN Wireless Telegrapher so that’s alright). Made me promise not to copy him which I didn’t since I always wore a marigold gove and plimsoles when doing it.
    All the early computers completely passed me by both at work and domestically until a second hand tower arrived in my household about 15 years ago and sorting it out fell to me for some reason, got rid of my TV within 6 months since I no longer used it.

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    • I still have some CRT monitors in the garage. They haven’t been turned on for years but I’m still wary about taking them apart. I’ll probably take them to the dump one day.

      Like

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