“I heard they’re updating the emergency flood network on our phones with, like, a retina computer too. Now our smartphones are gonna be attached to our faces.”

“That’s funny. Smartface!”

Corporate Torsos Need Not Apply

When I started writing Corporate Torsos Need Not Apply, it was 1996. I didn’t have a cell phone. I don’t think I even realized I would have a cell phone someday. I knew some people had internet in their homes, but I didn’t.

The first brush I had with large-scale telecom network technology was in market research, in 1999. I was a telephone survey interviewer. And that’s where I did a lot of my early thinking about Corporate Torsos, so it makes sense that market research landed in the book.

But the other tech in the book didn’t come so easy. I couldn’t really conceive of a situation where people in America would give up their personal freedom to technology. Everybody was so resistant in the 1990s. I was such a Luddite, too. I couldn’t see what was on the way.

Five years later, the Patriot Act was passed, and we all saw that people actually do give up personal freedoms pretty quickly when they feel threatened. And, in an emergency, people do want to be located, and they want to locate their loved ones. So, I came up with the headset: one monocle, one earpiece, one GPS tracker that pings your location via a MARSAT-esque satellite network.

It’s such an unoriginal idea, that, when I went to have my book website designed, and I described it, my designer sent me a picture of that very thing.

Vuzix develops Google Glass-like smart glasses
Source: Vuzix via venturebeat.com (2013)

Google glasses came out, and they had a similar idea, too.

My vocabulary for the headset didn’t turn out to be unique, either. The eyepiece, or monoculous, as I called it, was already the name for this, if you drop the third O:

Team Fortress 2 Official Wiki

Great. Video games have already thought of everything.

Turns out it was also a foe of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a 2012 television version.

Anyway, I kinda digressed here, but my point was that now, 24 years later, now that we have wearable technology, smart cars, global telecom networks, extensive electromagnetic weapons technology, and a number of other things that wound up in the book, shouldn’t I have just left the setting and the tech back in 1996? I hear mom jeans, ’90s fashion, boy bands, and everything else we ignored at the time is retro-popular now.

The book supposes that there will be conditions under which people give up part of their private lives to technology. And we do. But we’re not wearing headsets yet. Globally, 43.2% of people don’t have access to the internet. In America, 10% don’t use it or don’t have access to high-speed internet.

So it’s still hard for me to imagine future tech. I recently read a story where people had the headset/monoculous/google glass implanted in their irises. When’s that happening? Five years? Fifty?

What do you think you’ll be using next? Virtual reality? Self-driving car? 3-D food printer?

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