This book is a journey through the gadgets and technologies that have influenced my life and are about to bring almost unimaginable changes to our world. Each of the chapters is devoted to an individual communications technology from the transport technologies of bicycles, scooters, motor bikes, cars, buses, trains and planes of chapter two to the immersive technologies of video games, virtual worlds and social networks that now engage our discretionary time, attention and income. The chapters have been organised in the chronological order in which they influenced my career and my life and, on reflection, are in increasing order of importance and significance in determining the future of everyone on this planet. The span of my lifetime has seen a massive transformation in our use of these technologies as they now converge within powerful new devices and applications. With this transformation in usage has come a profound change in our relationship with technology which I believe will create unprecedented challenges and opportunities that we may struggle to manage.
The message behind this autobiographical account of my own and mankind’s relationship with machines and technology in the second half of the twentieth century and first decade of the twenty first is quite simple. My generation of baby boomers has lived through an unprecedented period in our history. My life began in an era when human beings used their intelligence and senses to get the best out of machines and technology and will end in an age in which machines and technology will be using all their intelligence and senses to get the best out of human beings. Where once we were masters we may now become slaves. The consequences of this shift in power are profound, unpredictable and potentially either disastrous or liberating for the future of mankind. The choices we are making today about how, where and when we use the technologies described in this book could well destroy civilisation and the beautiful planet we live on. The world I have spent my life in is a metaphorical “Garden of Eden” yet I fear that the new God we are all choosing to create in our own image and empower with all the knowledge of good and evil may well cast us out into an age of darkness and conflict. The stories of the Bible’s Old Testament may not have been about the past but may well be predicting the future.
My wish is that this book will hold something of value for everyone with an interest
in what the future may hold. I hope that the “Digital Natives” who were born into
the “Information Society” of the internet will learn what the world was like without
computers, broadband, mobile phones, video games and social networking web sites
and use this knowledge to harness these powerful tools for the good of mankind. For
the “Digital Immigrants” of my own baby boomer generation who have taken instructions
from a three year old grandchild on how to use a video recorder control, I hope that
my memories will provoke nostalgic reminiscences of a bygone world yet act as a wake-