The following essay was submitted by Carrie Gold from Neumont University as part of the Future of Technology Scholarship competition.
It’s been years since I’ve had diabetes—the doctors say it is diet and exercise, but I’ve never been very good at diet and exercise. Medication, though—I’ve been good at that. Since last week, at least. I guess I can’t really take too much credit for it. But like my husband says, I did finally let them do it, and I get the credit for that. They’ve been installing the little devices that monitor blood sugar and squirt in the right amount of insulin for several years now. I was always just hesitant.
I like it enough, though. I might just let them do it for my migraines. Jason did that, too. He got the whole package: his migraines all managed along with his high blood pressure all with the little sensors and pumps that are so easy to get now for your DNA-adapted medications. He’s so willing to try all these new things. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day he came home with one of those self-driving cars. I’d make him take that back, though. No way I’m getting in one of those ever since 2,000 of them ran right into each other at the same time last year because of that virus the West African terrorists introduced into their software.
And some people say we should be soft on immigration. Let me tell you, everything I see on the internet on my scroll talks about getting rid of those people. I really do keep up on the news—I don’t just use a phone to play games and keep track of my grandkids. But let me tell you, every video clip and article that ever comes up for me on immigration just talks about how bad they are for the economy and jobs and all sorts of things.
It can’t help that they pay for everything in Bitcoins. Where’s all the tax money that they could be spending on the country that’s hosting them without even knowing it? Bitcoins are about the only thing you can’t track these days. Even at school, my poor granddaughter Aya tells me how every answer and every mark she makes is tracked. They hardly even have teachers in the building any more. She’s always surprised when I tell her stories about moving from room to room in high school, with different teachers and kids, about how they all had their own rules and quirks….The poor thing can hardly imagine it, the way she sits in front of a screen most of the day answering questions and pressing play on a video when she doesn’t understand something. I suppose it is better in a lot of ways, like the way she describes how she and Johnson Marquez (the boy from down the street who has always sat next to her—alphabetical order and all) can be sitting there in math class working on totally different things. And I gather they have group projects—“problem-solving clinics,” her school calls them. But still. I doubt she hardly ever talks to adults. Not, anyway, besides the videos on her computer screen.
She does have a real teacher for art class, but even that is computer-based for the most part. They use the 3D printer for so much—her sculptures are so beautiful. She says Johnson got caught for plagiarism, though, using other peoples’ patterns and trying to pass them off as his own with a couple of modifications. I swear that kid is headed towards no-good. I hear from the neighbors he spends all his time on video games, and that his poor stepmom is tired of walking into his room with him with goggles covering his face, him wiggling around fake fighting. I hear she says that it’s the only social contact he has, though. As if that hardly counts. She probably just feels guilty because she and his dad are always traveling. I have it on good authority they’ve done the three-hour flight to Hawaii at least five times without him.
Anyway, Aya, at least she has the normal parents. My son Aiden was always the normal one. He works for the government these days. Most of his projects have been in counter-terrorism. There’s funding for that, after all, ever since the Electromagnetic Pulse ten years ago. Jason and I didn’t get too hard with the data loss that happened—our data was triangulated well enough, and we still had enough information left to re-construct evidence of our bank accounts and Jason’s retirement. Our neighbor lost all her stock options, though. Too bad all her “data eggs” were in one basket. We all know better now.
Anyway, our younger daughter, June, is just a whole other story. I could tell pretty quick that she was a little off. She had a phase in high school where she refused to ever scan her fingerprint on any hardware the school owned. She said it was an invasion of privacy. After three meetings with the principal, I had to ground her until she gave in so she didn’t fail all her classes.
We haven’t talked in a long time—I got tired of her tirades about how companies can find out everything about you. She explains, as if I didn’t already know, how it’s the reason the drones ship things so fast, how stores know who you are when you enter, how they bring you your size and suggest things you know you’ll like—either in a physical location or online. She was just too little to remember what it was like to walk into a store before, how you’d ask someone something and they’d have no idea how to answer anything you asked them. Who cares if they store some information about you to do that.
They even work a garden—I don’t know why you would. The big professional farms hardly even touch the dirt or food or fields these days, just one thing that robots do so much better than people ever have. I can understand wanting your own fresh food, I guess, but even that is something household AI speeds up like crazy.
I just don’t think June and VJ understand how things have changed for the better in the last twenty or so years.