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what you need to know about new technology

1. Technology goes through three phases: inventing, developing, maturing. Once a technology is mature it rarely disappears forever. Even wooden ploughs are still being used because they have a utility in places where welding is difficult and costly. The notion of obsolescence is replaced with that of increasing breadth of option. Technology in the inventing and developing phase moves forward, but in the maturing phase it just moves sideways, fanning out, ever increasing our options. 

2. Recognise when a technology is entering the maturing phase. New versions show ever smaller improvements. They answer non-universal problems or even non-existent problems (a parking camera?). Disproportionate cost goes into small improvements. The technology moves slowly- predictions replace actual developments. This is the key moment- when you cease to be surprised by a new technology - it just appears in the market place- and have to be told to wait until 2020 or some other date, then you know the technology has entered a fanciful immitation of development- when actually it is either mature or even a failure. Think driverless cars and nuclear fusion here.

3. The internet is now a mature technology. Already people are working around it, putting up with its intrusions, using it, sure, but not being used by it.

4. New technology is always beneficial at first and then increasingly negative in its effects. Sometimes terribly so, sometimes not.

5. To predict the future better think of technological developments as spreading ever wider in a widening front that faces the future and yourself at that widening front looking out. The technology is vastly secondary to other concerns you may have about the unknown facing you...

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