Progress is infinite, as the pundits say, and we can allow it to carry us off, or we can wave it adieu as it passes us by and out of sight. We can always get off the technological train, and be all he healthier and happier in spite of it. The Amish would attest to that, as they had the wisdom to climb off the caboose long ago when it became obvious to them that the internal combustion engine and radio were not good for the soul.
It’s about human augmentation, when the mere attachment of a device, electrical or mechanical, can supplement and even replace our appendages. Since the advent of local, personal, and global computing, our senses have been expanded so that we can see, hear, and interact with others on a global scale. Of course, all this global goodness degenerates into static when you have a million channels of information, so new flavors of the web will neatly pare it down for you. Thus Web 3.0, or the ‘semantic web’ will take a simple question: ‘I want to see an action movie, have dinner in a place that serves great nachos, do it on Tuesday, within three miles from home, and all on a $10 budget. Like a personal ghost in the machine, the new web will whip up your itinerary instantly, thus reducing your need to use the web.
But as it learns more, Web 3.0 will mature into Web 4.0, and advice it will give you, and more. So instead of telling you about good things for you, it will advance to telling you about things that are good for you. So the semantic web morphs into the ‘stop your antics’ web, as it examines your browsing, walking, talking, eating, etc. history (after all, it is plugged into all those things by now) and comes up with not games, but a game plan. Of course, we may not take the web’s advice to eat our broccoli, and perhaps a paternalism setting on your browser can control for too much good advice. But again, we are generally not wont to reject the advice of a friend, even if it’s not human.
In the past, to have or have not meant the mentorship of good parents, good teachers, and good friends; but in the future it will likely turn on a browser setting and a non human purview of humankind that may eventually suggest to us it is perhaps time to jump off the caboose. Then we will know, like the Amish, that it would be good for the soul.