There is a lot of unused power and cleverness out there right now. I don’t think that this is a new thing, but rather that the tools are better, getting them out and available is easier. It’s entirely possible to track a person via their wireless/wifi access, but its not anywhere as easy (or pretty) as what you see on CSI. You may be dealing with multiple networks, multiple sources you have to go through to get data. It is, quite nearly, an impossible task for a human person to tackle without the support of computer driven search software, and even then, if a person is crossing lines, if they are moving between networks for one reason or another, it adds levels of complexity that may take days to solve.
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The future is here, strangely enough. 3d printers can kit you out with a custom drone, you can create aggressive, combat ready items of clothing that deliver a jab or an electric shock if someone gets too close. You can slip magnets under the skin of your fingers (if you have a strong stomach and a lot of lidocaine) to get a tactile sense of the magnetic fields around you. There are all these bits and bobs and emerging tech and inventive use cases that can be found in every corner of the world and, while they haven’t yet gelled into the inevitable dystopic future we all fear, the sheer number of things that we can do now that were just an idea less than 10 years ago is truly mind blowing.
I don’t actually have a dog in this fight. I make it a policy to be platform agnostic. When I first started working in entertainment and games you had Unix boxes, PC’s and Macs. Depending on who I was working for, or what project I had in hand at the time, I had to be able to use all three fluently, a fluency I’ve managed to maintain.
But, for the next iteration of computer users, the ones who, in 10-15 years are going to be running the new tech startups, the future is going to be Google.
Once upon a time, Apple did something really clever. They introduced computers into the elementary schools and by doing so they laid the groundwork for their branding and their technology, they had some hiccups along the way, but for a long time anyone who didn’t need higher-order access (like programmers) preferred Apple.
Now it’s Google that’s in the classrooms. The Chromebook is rapidly becoming the standard for hands-on computer learning in classes. Now, granted, these are cloud-based “dumb-terminals”, you “can’t” (notwithstanding the cleverness of students) load anything new onto them, you can only run the apps made available by the school.
So you have a large, upcoming population intimately familiar with Google and Chrome. They are going to be familiar with how those systems work, how to work with objects in the cloud. They will be comfortably ensconced within Google’s own walled garden (granted, the wall is only knee-high compared to Apple’s battlements) and they are going to be comfortable with the Google ecosystem. They will be used to having a single account to access everything from any device, and the price points will make sure that Google derived-technology remains accessible to everyone.
They aren’t going to take out Apple’s market by going head-to head in smartphones, or even in laptops. Instead they have targeted the future, and unless Apple starts to move back towards accessibility via education, one day they are going to wake up and find that they are trapped back in the boutique market they worked so hard to escape from.
When I write sci-fi pieces, I’m usually looking at the mind. Not just in how people act and react to one another, but in particular how they act and react within the constraints of technology. In the proto-cyberpunk world I am currently working in, there is a certain amount of psychological risk when dealing with memories and experiences created through the use of implanted technology. Not just the classic old trope of “can you be killed in cyberspace?” but a slightly more nuanced approach based around ideas like the one linked below.