Screenshot of a news segment from the year 2007 about 2017 (YouTube)

Remember the year 2007? I bet you do. You were so young and vibrant and full of life. You had that thing you were going to do but then never did. And then there was that place you wanted to go but never went. You probably dreamed of what the world might look like in ten years time—filled with technological wonders and exciting opportunities. Well, it’s ten years later. How’s things?

Brian Williams ran a segment on NBC back in 2007 about the futuristic year 2017. And I have to say that it’s pretty depressing. The predictions from the segment that did come true are often just pieces of a larger dystopian nightmare (widespread facial recognition) and the parts that aren’t yet true (easy hospital patient identification) just remind us how broken our health care system is at the moment.

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We keep hearing about the rate of technological change and how it’s increasing so rapidly that humans can barely catch up. Which is, of course, bullshit. And the NBC segment puts that in stark contrast. Yes, there have been some technological changes since 2007. But I doubt that historians will write about the past decade as fundamentally radical.

“Special coverage here tonight, life in the US in ten year’s time,” Brian Williams said, starting the segment. “By that time there may be all kinds of new ways to safeguard and identify all those things that make each of us unique—our faces, even our fingerprints, even our eyes.”

From the segment:

The year is 2017. You’re rushed to a hospital unconscious with no ID or medical history. But, thanks to a microchip under your skin, it’s all there. Science fiction twenty years ago, but a biometric reality today.

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Already, fingerprints and iris scans verify passenger identities at airports. Within ten years that technology may be even more widespread. And look for more complex facial recognition programs that scan a crowd of thousands looking for a single terrorist.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being a Debbie Downer. How do you feel watching this news segment? Do you feel like you live in the future?

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