The Future Is Now

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Our smart phones are remarkable tools. In many ways they operate like something out of science fiction. I can use my phone to send emails, texts, and make phone calls. If I wish I can see the person with whom I am talking in real time. With voice commands I can get directions to any place I may be going. I watch movies and television programs on my phone and learn about virtually any topic on earth. Not even the great library of Alexandria housed the depth of knowledge that is available on the tiny instrument that I carry in my pocket or my purse. I use my phone for games and to keep track of what I eat and how much I exercise. It has a calendar that keeps me apprised of upcoming appointments. I can even use a hotspot on my phone to provide the same kind of coverage as the Internet for my laptop. Of course, my phone has a better camera than any I ever ever before owned, allowing me to snap photos and videos wherever I go. The slender block that fits in the palm of my hand is actually more powerful than the bank of computers the helped to send men to the moon. 

Years ago, when I was a teen I remember getting stranded on Main Street in downtown Houston in the evening when all of the department stores were closed. I walked for miles before I finally found a phone, and was able to call my mom to come rescue me. That situation worked out well, but it could have been horrific. I’ve had many moments in the past when my car broke down, or I got lost when I had no recourse but to hope that I would be able to get the help that I needed without endangering my life. Such occasions were so frightening. Now I always feel somewhat safe and secure when I am out and about on my own as long as I have my phone. 

Phones get better and better all of the time, so I often wonder what the creators of the software will think of next for improving what we already have. Honestly, I can’t think of a thing that I might need, although I do love the coordination of the iPhone with the Apple watch that provides health information like EKGs. Perhaps one day the mechanisms will be sensitive enough to send alerts to someone who is on the verge of a heart attack or a stroke. I know that right now if I fall and don’t get up, my phone and watch will work in tandem to call 911. 

I’m a true crime junkie, so I’ve listened to dozens of podcasts detailing stories of murders. Something I’ve learned from those programs is how much data can be traced from the phone of a missing person. Some people find such capabilities invasive. I find them remarkable. I’d like to think that if I were to one day become less mentally alert, that my whereabouts might be traced from my phone. 

A few years back one of my grandsons had just received a new phone as a gift from his parents. He proudly brought it with him on a trip to Colorado. At some point he realized that he was unable to find it. He had to reluctantly let his mother know that it appeared to be gone. She had put a tracking feature on the device and insisted that it was somewhere in or near the cabin where we were staying. With all of our efforts we were not able to find its whereabouts. He was crushed as we drove all the way back home. 

When we arrived at his house we sadly informed his mom that it must be back at the cabin somewhere and we hoped that the next person who went there might find it where we had been unsuccessful. His mother showed us her app and then scratched her head because it clearly showed that the phone was at her home. Still, we could not find it even after unpacking all of our bags, checking the dirty laundry and combing the inside of the truck. It was a mystery for sure. 

Because everyone was so dismayed I went back to the truck one more time and reached my hands as far down into the backs of the seats as possible. I found a kind of well under one of them. As I blindly probed, I felt something move. With a little effort I fished out the object and it was the phone. We later learned that we could actually tilt that particular seat and store things underneath it. We reasoned that somehow the phone had slipped through the crack and landed in the opening where it became lost. We might never have found it but for the tracker that my daughter kept insisting was accurate.

Some people fear the reach of technology, and I suppose that there is potential for trouble. I, however, marvel at how much better the smart phone has made life. I imagine a day when that little phone will make more and more things possible for the betterment of humankind. I wonder what they will think of next? I’m sure it will be wonderful.