Of the several internet browser tabs open on my desktop at the moment, one reads: ‘A world without work is coming; it could be utopia or it could be hell.’
Coincidentally, that is often my second thought on a Saturday morning. Another says: ‘Facebook in the car will cause road deaths to soar’, to which I think: “Well, it probably won’t, will it?”
We do fear change, don’t we? Yes, an avalanche of technology is arriving and sometimes it feels like coping with it is going to be quite the struggle. The thrust of that first story I mentioned is that we should plan for the day when robots eventually put us all out of a job, just like Tomorrow’s World said would happen by 1995.
The second story focuses on the fact that the screen in your car will soon replicate anything your smartphone can do. Some already do.
Whether this is a change for better or worse depends on your mood. I usually think things change for the better and would take the 2016 version of my village newsletter – where the big story is outrage because people park on the village green’s verge – over a period when the thrust of the front page would have been about the plague or marauding Vikings.
But war, famine, Brexit, exile, political collapse and now motorised Facebook keep the presses turning, I suppose, breeding a fear of cars whose centre consoles mimic a smartphone. Tech arrives before the legislation to control it and, as a result, people get all of a pickle.
Not unreasonably, to be fair, because some people will be stupid enough to use their phone’s functions while driving. Think of what your phone can do: web browse, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Jetpack Joyride… fiddling with any of these on the move is ridiculous. Some cars have voice control to assist, but these systems are so hopeless that they’re as likely to telephone your ex-wife as skip forward a track on Spotify.