Around the middle nineteenth century, the television was starting to get big. As its hardware became more advanced, and more affordable it became a populist necessity. But the television plateaued. As the decades passed, primitive cell phone and internet technologies were released. During 1995 and 1996, America Online LLC (AOL) had hit it big with the PC's transition to Windows 95. Suddenly communication was interesting, convenient, and competitive. Very quickly, school districts across the United States started going digital with the World Web Web. Children were getting access at school. Classroom teachers discussed in computer lab e-mail and the Web. Fortunate kids would raise their hands and explain the functionality of having internet access at home. In 1997, the United States saw similar versions of the cellphones we still use today. In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone, which made an all-in-one communication package available to subscribers. G3, the touchscreen, and voice recognition made communication even more interesting, convenient, and competitive.
There was a plateau after the printing press, the telephone and radio, and the television. Is there going to be a plateau after the technology we so conveniently utilize today? Some think that there won't be much of a plateau at all.
Andrew Wagner, guitarist in the band Ample Branches and a frequent iPod and Mac laptop user, thinks it's only going to get more advanced. He thinks that the plateaus between differing advancements are only going to get smaller. Similarly, Ample Branche's Kevin Lawrence, iPhone and Mac user, thinks that all communication technologies will get faster and become used on a more widespread scale. He imagines a world where the majority of residences will have an all-in-one type communication hardware that will simultaneously combine television with technologies made readily available from Apple's iPhone. This mass produced system would be something like an internet television with lots of windows on the screen and a computer mouse. In one window there's the football game, another, the Daily Show, and beside each of these window is another window where there's a place to blog your thoughts instantly with users all over the world. Lawrence thinks that this type of technology is already available but will become more prevalent as the years pass. The entire Web, voice communication, video games, movies and music will be part of it too. This technology could be used at home or in public. But in order for this type of communication to occur, a more advanced network would have to be developed. It would be like G3, only incorporate more services offered by individual communication companies, and considerably more advanced. The chances are that subscribers to a service like this would be paying there bills to AT&T, Microsoft, or Apple-like company, or maybe the companies might merge. Whatever, that case may be, something similar will happen.
What about after that? Historically, what's next?
Futurist Ray Kurzweil, author The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, thinks that sometime around 2040 artificial intelligence will be a billion times greater than human intelligence, and humans who nonbiologically enhance themselves will be able to live forever. Critics of Kurzweil think there are many problems with this idea, and that he is obsessed with trying to cure his old age. Yet, however odd or problematic Kurzweil's vision may seem, there is some merit to his belief in the exponential view of technological history. He views technological progress as a logarithmic curve, where each plateau (period between technological advancement) gets smaller as exponential rise (period of technological advancement) gets steeper and steeper. Apple product users like Andrew Wagner and Kevin Lawrence both believe a similar view. They may not agree with Kurzweil, but they do believe that the plateaus are getting smaller. The fact that Kurzweil is contracted with the Department of Defense indicates that there are like-minded scientists working on making similar vision's of his come true.
In any case, we have seen how communication technology has become more interesting and convenient in our every day use, and also, its apparent that the communications industry is driving, through its competitive nature, a more advanced market. This market has connected our words, our voice, and the Web to our lives; hearing, sight, and touch. The next step might be thought. Emerging research and development in the industry of AugCog (augmented cognition), which connects our brains to the Web, might one day prove this dimension's success in communication technology and society. But that's another story.