As We May Have Thought

This is a reflection of this article, found in The Atlantic, originally published 1945 and recommended by Adrian Miles.

I am absolutely in love with this relic of the past. I feel like a time-traveller, hiding in the stars, peering down at history as it gazes up in wonder.

The accuracy in which Vannevar Bush ponders the future amazes me. He grasps at the concept of the internet, with his predictions of a vast wealth of human knowledge amassed on small sheets reminiscent of the minuscule computer chips and data banks which house Wikipedia and the rest of the online network. He also believes in the future belonging to compression. In this article, he theorises a walnut-sized camera capable of capturing photos of flawless quality with ease and speed. This device would be aligned with one’s glasses and out of eyesight, allowing one to move about during the day free of distraction. In essence, Bush predicted Google Glass, an up-and-coming technology which merges futuristic eyewear with day-to-day living.

Expanding upon this idea of compression, Bush raises the interesting point that while humanity’s amassed knowledge increases exponentially, our storage and distribution becomes smaller and smaller, more compact and portable as time goes by.

I believe this is indicative of mankind’s inherent greed (or hunger, depending on how you look at it) for knowledge. Not only is there more knowledge for us to grasp, but we can now take even more of it with us wherever we go.

It is interesting to see how predictions made in 2014 will come to fruition in the future, decades from now. Have we reached the apex of compression? Or are we only at the foot of the slope?



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