Dumb Article of the Day

My wife sent me an email titled “This Article Was Written by an Idiot”. It pertained to this article:

15 Current Technologies A Child Born Today Will Never Use

Some dude named Avram Piltch wrote an article titled “15 Current Technologies A Child Born Today Will Never Use”. Avram is trying to prognosticate technology usage in the next decade. The following is my opinion (with a fact or two thrown in here and there) of this article.

Here is the short list of things he thinks will be going away soon:

Wired Home Internet

Dedicated Cameras and Camcorders

Landline Phones

Slow-Booting Computers

Windowed Operating Systems

Hard Drives

Movie Theaters

The Mouse

3D Glasses

Remote Controls


Phone Numbers

Prime-time Television

Fax Machines

Optical Discs

I’m going to start with the list of things he’s probably right with. These technologies will not exist in 99.9% of people’s daily lives in five to ten years: Fax Machines, Optical Disks and Hard Drives.

When the author says “Hard-Drives” he means magnetic medium spinning disk drives. It’s true that these will be mostly replaced by solid state drives in the coming years.

The Fax technology that exists today is not really the same as it existed twenty years ago. Most Fax systems today are virtual Faxes, meaning computers that emulate the Fax technology. Since this is already obsolete, predicting its demise is like me saying that VHS is going away.

Optical Disks are less and less necessary as Streaming movies/old TV shows takes over that particular market. Data can be backed up online or to a removable SSD. The main reason that people buy the optical disks today is so they can keep a permanent copy of the movie or show. As people learn to trust in the perpetuality of owning a digital copy, owning a disk will be less and less necessary. However if any of the companies that oversee the ownership of digital media go belly-up and people lose access to their digital/virtual copies, we may see a resurgence.

Home based systems using 3d Glasses are also obsolete already, though the price for 3d systems that don’t require them is still a bit steep.

That’s the entirety of where Avram is right on the money.

These next few will still exist but only be used by professionals and hard-core hobbyists:

Dedicated Cameras, Wired Home Internet (and Landlines), Desktop Computers.

No photographer is going to rely solely on a phone. The lens options are just not sufficient. Digital zoom/filters/angle lenses will never be as good as actual opticals. It’s simply not possible. Digital zoom simply looks at fewer pixels or uses smart blurring to emulate zoom. It’s not the same as a crisp image through a true zoom lens.

Wired Internet and Landlines will be a long time in going away simply because wireless technologies are not as trustworthy security wise or stability wise. Wireless technologies may become as stable and secure as hard-wired systems, but it will be a long time yet before people really believe that. Maybe twenty years, maybe never. Most people, however, will switch entirely to wireless.

Laptops can do almost anything a desktop can do. Laptops aren’t even always more expensive anymore. Still for the die-hard gamer or graphic artist or film producer, the power requirements just don’t fit into a laptop – yet. Once we move past the basic internet surfing machine, the price gap in laptops vs. Desktops increases exponentially.

These are not going away anytime soon:

Movie Theaters, Mice, Phone Numbers, Prime Time Television, Windowed Operating systems.

We work in windows. The next step is fully integrated single interface accessing all programs simultaneously. People won’t adjust to that quickly – we like to compartmentalize our apps. We want them all running in their own boxes. Those boxes are called windows. Windows 8 is still windows.

When Movie Theatres become obsolete, we will see a drastic drop in production values. Currently movies use higher and higher production values to keep luring us to a big screen. When this model fails, we will be hard pressed to find anything with production values higher than garage made films. The profit margin is just not there in digital distribution. Since box office numbers are still going up, I don’t see this changing in the near future. And given the predilection for 3d in movies, and the extreme difficulty of creating wide viewing angle glasses free screens, 3d glasses will still be around for a decade or two.

Prime Time Television will also be sticking around. We will have more choices and production values/costs will drop some as the audience spreads out among the viewing options, but Primetime Television is going to be around for a while. We may not watch it in primetime (we probably will since most people still work 9-5ish and have their free time at night) but network television will persist. Streaming Internet entertainment is not really a substitute for people who want to keep current so they can partake of conversations. Someday Streaming Internet entertainment may match the production values of television, but not in the next few years. Even when it does, it will be a decade or two at least before people switch over. We’ll most likely see a merging of streaming and televised technologies as televisions become more like computers. Still, shows will be scheduled and people will watch them as soon as they are available. That point in time will be primetime.

Mice aren’t going anywhere soon. Who wants to hold their arm up all day as they use a computer? I like my elbows resting on the desk. I don’t see that changing. The next advance that will replace mice will be eye-motion activated devices or something along those lines. Since this involves retraining people, there will still be mice for a couple decades as well.

Phone numbers will exist simply because 10 digits is a whole lot easier for the phone companies to keep track of than 30 digit unique usernames. Sure there is a potential for more variations in characters with numbers and letters, but when we use letters we like to arrange them in words – once we add that limitation, we have to allow for much longer names than numbers. Numbers will persist though they may lose visibility with some systems, they’ll be there underneath.

The end of slow booting computers is a pipe dream. Every time they make computers faster, the people who make the systems that run on them find ways to make them do more, using any time I save by buying a faster system. Windows originally ran from a folder only a megabyte or two in size. Windows 7 can take 50 Gigabytes or more of a hard drive. The more we expect our computers to do for us, the more work they will be doing, the longer they will take to boot. Put the OS on a solid state drive and it might boot in seconds now, but a generation or two of Windows in the future and we’ll once again have time to boot the PC, go to the bathroom and grab a drink before we have to input the password.

As for Remote Controls, I don’t know. I don’t like the idea of waving my arms around or yelling at my TV. I can see motion control coming to pass, but I don’t see remotes going away altogether for a while yet, though I wouldn’t be surprised if their forms change and I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t.

Avram has a tunnel vision view of the future. A lot can change in ten years. But, while new technologies come into our lives at a breakneck pace, old technologies leave at a snail’s pace. Ten years ago I was told that Smartphones were coming. Smartphone’s are a huge change to our lifestyle. They’ve been around now for most of the decade in one form or another and there are people who don’t have them yet. I know people who still don’t have cell phones. Not everyone adopts new technologies as soon as they are available.

VHS took more than ten years to die after the advent of the DVD. It wasn’t even the best technology of its time. People are strange. No one can predict what they will and won’t adopt. We can try. And Avram is certainly making an effort. But, he is not taking into account the vast variation in today’s people’s tastes and how unwilling people are to let go of their old technologies.

As another example, Microwave ovens were predicted to make heat based ovens obsolete by 1980, yet no one in their right mind would try to cook solely in a microwave. We all think food cooked with heat tastes better and it certainly is more evenly warmed. Newer and faster is not always going to supplant, but may just supplement old and reliable.

And yet another example, even older: Zippers are much simpler to use than laces or buttons, yet I still use both laces and buttons today. And then we have Velcro, which also didn’t supplant these tried and true technologies.

In my opinion, it’s fun to try to predict the future. Doing so without taking into account the human factor and you may as well be flipping a coin. Never discount stubbornness.

Here’s another article by the same guy where he’s actually mostly right, although he’s very condescending.


I’d agree with most of them, except I would consider buying accidental damage plans for technology you plan to put in the hands of a child. My Ipad’s plan has more than paid for itself, twice. But, read the fine print.


2 thoughts on “Dumb Article of the Day

  1. Thanks for the thoughtful response to my article. It’s hard to say which of these technologies will hang around longer than expected. Undoubtedly some of my predictions will turn out to be wrong.

    I want to clarify that I said that prosumer and professional level dedicated cameras like DSLRS and micro four thirds cameras will continue to exist in the future. i just don’t think that the average family snapping personal photos of their vacation or Christmas dinner will go for these products.

    I sincerely hope that there’s still a place for home-built desktops as I enjoy building my own and want to share that with my son. That said, the price differential between laptops and desktops is already non-existent at the low-end (a $500 laptop and a $500 desktop offer similar specs) and I expect it to eventually collapse at the higher end where today gaming and workstation level notebooks cost a lot more than their desktop competitors.

  2. Oh yeah the replacement plans are great if you have a kid or several. We have had our ipad since August 2011 it has been in to be repaired for damage caused by our 5 year twice, both times the damage rendered the device useless. We also used the replacement plan ($20) to get our 16 year old son’s kindle replaced when it got broken a week after we bought it.

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