There’s nothing on this list that we shouldn’t be amazed by, but honestly, most of us—myself included—take many of them for granted.
Inspirational credit goes to Patton Oswalt, who does a bit about how amazing portable MP3 devices are on his new My Weakness is Strong album (“Wow, how many songs does it hold?” “Every song you’ve ever heard, or ever will hear, or will ever be written.”). In fact, I’m going to leave those off the list because I don’t want to be redundant.
- Broadband Internet
Just ten years ago, the average person on the street hadn’t even heard of the internet. Now many of us enjoy speeds fast enough to download a DVD in mere minutes.
You have access to almost every book ever written. You no longer need to go to the local library and hope they have a copy of something – you can get it electronically.
The cell phone in your pocket is more powerful than the computers used to send people to the moon. I don’t want to hear people complaining that the iPhone didn’t have MMS for two years. We put humans into outer space with less.
- Overnight shipping
Place an order with a company, pay a few bucks—okay, maybe more like forty or fifty, but still—and they’ll put your product on a truck, get it to an airport, and fly it to your house. If you don’t have a landing strip, they’ll take it to the nearest airport and drive it the rest of the way, but you’ll still have it the day after you order it.
- Video conferencing
My daughter can see and talk with her grandparents via Skype for free. They live 1800 miles away.
- Portable DVD players
For a hundred bucks, more or less, you can watch DVDs in the car. Ideally, you won’t be driving while you’re doing this.
- Digital photography
Nevermind waiting a week, a day or even an hour for your prints. You can now take 100 pictures in less than a minute, choose which ones you like, and edit them yourself. You barely need to know how to use the camera – you’ll still get a decent snapshot almost every time.
- 24-hour news from around the world
You can turn on the television or your computer and find out what’s happening on the other side of the world in real time.
- The past is the present
Between DVDs, CDs and audio/video available online, there is very little that has been recorded and is yet unavailable for public consumption. TV shows have had their entire runs released on DVD. Recording artists from 70 years ago can be heard in crystal clear digital audio. Name any movie ever made and you can probably get a copy of it.
- Pocket-sized high definition video cameras
How old are you? Do you remember the days of home movies that were recorded on film? Maybe you remember video cassette cameras, the kind that were shoulder mounted and made every fifth person at Disney World look like a dork. Well, now we have HD cameras that fit in your pocket priced under two hundred bucks.
- Modern medicine
Heart attacks no longer mean death. People can live with many major diseases that would have killed them just ten years ago. Some diseases have been all but eradicated from the face of the planet. We have vaccines for things that should be killing us: one little shot and we don’t have to worry about dying of tetanus.
- Abundant food supplies
People counter this assertion with “but there’s starvation in the world!” Yes, but it’s not because there isn’t enough food to go around. Worldwide, there is enough for everyone. We just need to spread it around more. Think of how much food is wasted every year in the United States alone: according to one source, as much as 14% of purchased food ends up as waste. Some estimates suggest that as much as half of all food produced worldwide ends up wasted.
- Modern air travel
You can hop on a plane and reach any destination on the planet in a matter of hours. New York to London used to take weeks by boat. Now you can fly across the ocean and be there in time for dinner.
- Computer processors
For a very reasonable price, you can purchase a computer with a processor (and this is just one example) rated at about 60,000 MIPS. That’s 60,000 “Million Instructions Per Second”. That’s 60 billion instructions per second.
- Microwave ovens
I know they’re not exactly new and exciting, but that’s kind of the point of all this. The microwave oven is an amazing piece of technology!
- Wireless networking
You can take your laptop computer anywhere and reasonably expect to get wireless internet connectivity in many urban (and suburban for that matter) areas. Don’t want to chance it? Get a mobile broadband card and have connectivity everywhere you go.
Anyone with a computer and a microphone can broadcast their thoughts and words to the world. It’s like pirate radio except the FCC can’t shut you down. Popular podcasters can have more listeners than popular radio talk show hosts.
Send a message to anyone, anywhere on the planet, for free.
- Readily available education
Free and low-cost education is available to everyone that can get to a local library and can figure out how to use a computer. We’ve got free public schools as well, and while college sure isn’t cheap, there are low-cost alternatives.
- Remote controls
They’re like magic wands for the electronic devices in your living room.
- People are living in SPACE
There are people actually living in space aboard the International Space Station. They don’t ride a shuttle up and come down again in a few days. They live there. You know how it would be awesome to have Star Trek technology, flying between stars in a ship? That is where this leads.
Clearly, this list is not exhaustive. What do you consider to be mind-blowing?