We can’t predict the future, but the clues are all around us.
We’re all connected, to each other, to everything, in so many ways. Our daily lives are part planned, part accident, but always recorded. Most of us like to let a bit of randomness enter our lives – it’s often how the best things are discovered, how the best experiences happen. Serendipitous joy is a treasure.
But if we’re honest, there’s a lot less spontaneity driving our actions and transactions, our travels and connections. And there’ll be even less in the future. A lot of the planning and searching, the drudgery of existence, has been offloaded to our smart personal devices, and their even smarter services.
Our calendars automatically avoid conflicts; we get recommended reading lists served up in a flash; routes to work, home or just visiting are mapped without effort; even what to buy online or watch on television is discreetly prompted; suggested menus for every meal and how much to exercise appear at just the right moment. And the perfect partner for a date.
Our services track our every move, even the accidental ones. They faithfully record our changing preferences, habits and lifestyles. Then the algorithms get to work, churning through the vast data store to save us from ourselves, from the plethora of mindless options that we really don’t wish to be bothered about.
“Just give me what I want,” I hear you say, and the service complies. The simplicity of it all brings a smile to our lips. But where is the random joy of something unexpected, the chance meeting or the novel experience? Luckily the algorithm is programmable. Just say to your digital assistant: “Surprise me!”