Population should appreciate technological advances, celebrate progress already made

Odi Opole, Web Editor

Why do we take innovation for granted?
Why do scientific advances seem so small?
Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgarter broke the sound barrier in free-fall — by jumping out of space, mind you — and he is still alive and in one piece.
But that story probably got less press than a new episode of “Toddlers and Tiaras” did.
Or take phones — our parents remember a time when a cordless phone was only for the rich.
I remember ‘the olden days’ when my cell phone could call, text and play games with 32-bit quality. That was in sixth grade.
But now, to even know what 32-bit quality is, you have to be some kind of vintage video-game enthusiast.
I remember, in elementary school, carrying around portable CD players, batteries and books of CDs to listen to in the car on road trips.
I remember going to Blockbuster to get movies — you know, before Netflix happened.
And when I say going to Blockbuster, I mean actually going outside, getting in the car with my family, driving to the store and spending 30-45 minutes perusing the shelves before selecting the perfect comedy for family movie night.
Renting movies was an event.
I remember planning my nights around TV show schedules because it took forever for re-runs to start. I remember being genuinely upset if I missed a showing.
Now, while the sound from whatever I’m watching at the moment plays in the background, I can pull up my AT&T U-Verse On Demand menu and rent “Inception” while I catch the last scene of “The Big Bang Theory” — or I can just find shows and movies at any hour of any day on Hulu.
We should be looking around and marveling at the world we live in.
If we went back 50 years with a tablet, a smartphone, a laptop and a Wi-Fi hotspot, how do you think people would react? They would ask why we didn’t bring the jetpack and hover car along, too.
People always complain about how we haven’t fulfilled the goals futurists set for us in movies like “Back to the Future” and “Tron.” If you think about it, though, we’re already halfway there.
“The Jetsons” aired in 1962, and looked forward by exactly one century — in 2062, the average family was supposed to have flying cars, computerized everything and, of course, Rosie the Robot, the family maid and housekeeper. She cooked, cleaned and basically kept order in the chaotic family life of the Jetsons.
Right now in 2012, our generation has Siri, smart phones and the Internet.
I mean, I don’t know about you, but the only reason I can make it to school on time, contact anybody or find my way around the Kansas City area is because I have an HTC Evo and a fairly good mobile network reception.
We may not have Rosie the Robot yet, but we do walk around with small devices that allow us to communicate, entertain ourselves and get through the little crises of our daily lives.
We share pictures, videos and audio instantly. We have face-to-face conversations with people miles away, as long as we have a webcam and Internet connection.
We use our phones to connect to our email.
As recently as 1995, you had to plug your computer into the landline jack and pay per minute just to get online.
Seriously, are we not on a “Star Wars” level just because we haven’t figured out functional light sabers yet? We already have virtual classrooms, 3D movies and self-parking cars.
Starting in 2014, Google, Inc. will make ‘augmented reality’ glasses available for purchase. These ‘glasses’ will be wearable devices that allow you to do all the things you do on smart phones — with your eyes.
As long as you’re wearing the glasses, you can check weather, take pictures, send and receive messages, use social networks and even use Google Maps step-by-step navigation — and remember, this all happens via glasses.
The things that you wear on your face.
The future has arrived — and you don’t have to be a technology buff to appreciate it.