Technology will evolve but we’re done
My latest trip in my buddy's time machine to the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show was perhaps the most revealing yet. Whiz-bang gadgets are all over the place, but even in the future, the most evolved answer is not always the techie-est one. A couple of examples:
Digital Clock 2.0: The basic design of the common digital alarm clock has remained unchanged for decades. But thanks to a team of MIT geniuses who've worked day and night for 50 years inside bunkered labs shrouded in secrecy, a paradigm-shifting breakthrough has been made.
The magic quantum leap? They took out that red dot denoting a.m. or p.m. alarm times.
"How many times are you late for work each year because you accidentally set your alarm for 7 p.m. instead of 7 a.m.?" said convention-stage infomercial host Miley Cyrus, who seems to have landed on her feet after her youthful Hannah Montana indiscretions. "Three times? Four? More?"
I'm paraphrasing her now because for all her charm, Miley has maintained her lifelong knack for wearing out her welcome. But it's true that the a.m./p.m. dot is the Digital Age's version of Jimmy Kimmel or the appendix -- around forever, serving no known purpose.
Who needs to set an alarm more than 12 hours in advance? Have you ever gone to bed at 4 p.m. worried that you might sleep past an 8 a.m. meeting? If you're in any condition that requires more than a half-day's sleep, it's probably a good idea to just go ahead and reschedule all your appointments for the rest of the week.
But Miley puts it best at the end of each of her six daily convention sales pitches that always transform into song (to uproarious applause from those eager for both better clocks and Disney pop-music nostalgia): "As someone who knows a little something about mistakes, I know that feeling of wanting to go back and do things differently. With a simplified interface that eliminates the potential for regret, this new line of digital clocks is truly 'The Best of Both Worlds.'"
Commercial Watching Specialist I: A job-fair corner on the convention floor offered a couple of opportunities so enticing that I almost filled out an application.
Fast-forwarding digital video recorders drove TV commercials to extinction long ago. Since the patience to sit through 30-, 60- or 90-second ad spots has become a precious commodity, Proctor & Gamble has decided to hire a couch-potato army to mine for it at an annual salary of $210,000, plus dental.
For that chunk of dough, however, you've got to do more than just veg out to a GEICO-lizard marathon. After logging 1,000 viewing hours, you have to go on TV yourself as a "product pundit," discussing with news anchors which toothpaste or dish-washing detergent is best for various target markets, since no one would otherwise have any idea.
But viewers are starting to fast-forward through these TV segments as well, which brings me to the other job opportunity. Commercial Watching Specialist II: Primary responsibilities -- watching Commercial Watching Specialists I.