Said filmmaker Orson Welles in 1956: “I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can’t stop eating peanuts.”
We’re at a crossroads with the internet: How can something be so good but bad for us at the same time?
Part of the problem is that we use computers and phones for everything. We depend on technology to act as our wallet, camera, work, and entertainment device. Everything converges into the smartphone, yet we use it less to talk and more to navigate our everyday lives.
The addictive trills of the rectangular glow are just beginning. Tech promises to become more pervasive. From driving cars to learning languages, we will offload all our work into the unconscious but competent machines. AI portends to obviate human labor.
So what are we to do once the robots do it all for us? The line between productivity and doing nothing will blur. Some of us will entertain ourselves into inanition; others will work with automation to keep developing the future.
Either way, we are compelled to become the Jetsons. As long as we stay interested, we can keep the wave of the future interesting.
PS. I discovered the Orson Welles quote in Tim Wu’s fascinating new book The Attention Merchants.