Published on: February 11, 2016
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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
You may remember that last October 21 was celebrated in a number of circles as "Back to the Future Day," because it was the day, 30 years in the future, on which Marty McFly arrived In Doc Brown's time machine in order to save his as-yet unborn children, in "Back To The Future, Part 2." (If you've never seen the trilogy, you should. It is all too complicated to explain here. Not to mention tons of fun and enormously entertaining.)
My brother Tim is an elementary school technology teacher, and he was telling me the other day that on the occasion of "Back to the Future Day" he decided to get his 4th grade students to focus on the technologies portrayed in the film that had not been invented when the movie was released, and get them to talk about what happened and what didn't.
And then, he asked them to speculate about the things that they thought might exist 30 years from now. He was telling me about some of the predictions the other day, and I asked him to share the list with me, so I could share it with you ... it is an intriguing reflection of how nine and 10 year olds think. Among the prognostications...
• Technology that will allow people to insert themselves into video games and movies.
• The ability to travel to the moon ... for fun.
• Zero-gravity rooms.
• Hover cars and buses, and flying motorcycles. And cars that don't require any sort of fuel. (Imagine what that'll do to gas prices and the economy.)
• Food replicators and teleportation portals. (Clearly someone is a "Star Trek" fan.)
• Personal robots for everyone.
• We'll travel to Mars, and some people will live there. And we'll also travel to Pluto. And there will be aliens living on Earth. (Though this assumes that they're not here already.)
• There were a lot of predictions about holograms, including having them built into the iPhone 50.
• Self-cooking food, and food that "travels automatically from plate to mouth."
• I love this one - "robotic brains that let you live forever." (This isn't such a crazy idea ... it has been speculated about by serious scientists in books and journal articles.)
I do think there are some lessons here. One is that popular culture - whether movies, TV shows, or books - plays a significant role in shaping kids' opinions about what is possible. To paraphrase the old George Bernard Shaw quote, We used to see and read such things and wonder why and how. But young people see and read such things and ask, why not?
I also think that, for better or worse, young people are identifying their long-term priorities at an early age. They probably want robots because they believe that there are things they'll want to focus on, and things they won't ... and they'll get the robots to do the stuff they don't want to do. They want transporters and hover vehicles because when they want to get somewhere and so something, they don't want to be inhibited by the laws of gravity. And they see no reason they can't live forever ... which is probably how we all feel when we're in fourth grade.
These are all things to keep in mind as these kids get older, because even as they become the center of the marketing target, I believe their expectations and imaginations are not going to be diminished. In fact, they might expand ... and it will be up to marketers to figure out how to keep up. The alternative is to become irrelevant.
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning, and as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: