17 years ago
lake while the world spins by: Twenty years ago we saw this in sci-fi
programs and flicks. Today it is reality and pretty much taken for granted.
I have a seven axes Rhino Robot in my garage to keep me entertained. I have
one of the first computers that read CDs now programmed to turn on lights,
coffee makers, or turn them off at predetermined times and can be changed on
the fly in minutes. Have had this X-10 system now for over 15 years. I have
a PLC on my workbench just to experiment with, again when I have nothing
else to do. It has some 15 inputs and 8 outputs and is obedient to
sequential or ladder logic programming. My coffee is made at 3:30 every
morning that I remember to load coffee. My wife's alarm turns on the radio
at 3:45 to wake her up. At 8, 11 and 4 a set of sprinklers turn on the water
for ten minutes in various sections of the lawn. My Ford Explorer has run
over 143,000 miles and has stalled only twice for reasons unknown, but all I
do is switch off, switch on, switch off, switch on and bingo! There are more
sensors and controllers in the Ford than in most robots and they function
without human intervention.... most of the time. I set an alarm system which
has been fine tuned to not respond to the cat even when her tail is straight
up in the air. Any one of 8 sensors will trigger the system, call my
security people who are in contact with my local cop. My cell phone will
automatically turn the GPS on when I dial 911 and the programming available
to me is beyond my gray hairs so I only use the thing for incoming and
outgoing calls... maybe an occasional note to myself... to see the time...
to retrieve messages...
My entertainment center is a millennia ahead of when we had to stand up to
change channels. I can select and record up to two programs at once while
watching a third or a CD movie from NetFlix who keep me from ever having
nothing to watch. One day mail almost invariably. Frozen food is getting so
good and so cheap that it's hardly worth the time and effort to cook or go
out. Movies at local theatres are a thing of the past and fading, fading,
fading. Soon I will have a device I put on my hand and in seconds my vitals
will be analyzed by another robot system at the hospital and will call my
doctor only if something is out of the normal range and may even prescribe
an emergency drug and deliver it on the Pizza delivery bike next door.
UPS is so good now that when I call in an order to McMaster Carr in the
morning to their Los Angeles warehouse, I'll have it delivered that same
afternoon in most cases. Even the Postal Service has become a formidable
delivery system at really cost effective rates.