Innovation Is Scary

The recently released beta 4.3 version of Apple’s iOS for iPhone and iPad contains references to a feature called “Find My Friends.”

According to MacRumors, “the obvious interpretation is that Apple may be looking to offer a location-based friend-finding service like Loopt and Google Latitude.”

When I read this news I thought “that’s cool.”

When I told my wife about it she said, “that’s scary.”

Okay. So we don’t agree on absolutely everything. What couple does.

Her reaction made me consider the impact innovation has on our lives. We each have a vision of the future. Perhaps its a future with farms growing on the sides of skyscrapers. Perhaps its a future where we can travel to distant planets in the blink of an eye. But no matter what your vision of the future is, there is only one way to get there — one step at a time.

Beam me up, Scotty*

Every innovation that has happened in the past 100 years has been predicted by science fiction. (This is my theory anyway.)

My ideal future looks like Star Trek. Well, kind of. I see us evolving in that direction IF we don’t self-destruct first. The only way we will develop future technologies like transporters, sub-space communicators, time machines, and personnel locators is if we make baby-steps today to create and adopt new technologies that take us in that direction.

Figuratively transport yourself to early 1973, prior to the invention of the internet. Pretend you have a computer (probably a very big computer that doesn’t do much). Imagine someone says that they have a technology that can link all computers on the planet together so you can access all digital information everywhere, so you will always be connected to everyone, and that you will be constantly bombarded by communication in dozens of forms form hundreds or thousands of people — many of them you don’t even know. Does this sound scary? Does this sound like it could be abused by big brother?  Does it sound overwhelming? Would you want your computer connected with this technology?

Find My Friend may sound scary. It may have the potential to be abused. It may be boring or useless. Or it might profoundly change the way we communicate and relate with others. We won’t know how people will use it until we have it. We won’t know how it will change our lives until we are changed — until we are the future.

* According to Wikipedia, this phrase was never uttered in any of the Star Trek television episodes or movies.