When the new update of human beings came out, it was called homo sapiens. It came with all sorts of new and exciting features, but one of the most important updates was the ability to invent technologies and innovative tools.
Just like our ancestors, we spend our time hunting and gathering, but we’ve moved on from bows and arrows and are now equipped with new tools, like the cutting edge apps installed on our slick smartphones and nifty tablets.
As a software developer, I am one of those tool makers. I spend my day forging code and assembling design files and acknowledge that the rest of my life has become dependent on the tools that others have created for me.
Same needs, different tools
The needs of primal human beings were pretty simple: food, clothes, shelter and the possibility to procreate. If you think about it, these needs haven’t changed that much: we crave chilli cheese burgers, wear sporty sneakers and have unprotected sex. The only thing that has changed are the tools we use to satisfy these needs.
Back in the day, if you needed to make a tool to build a roof over your head, all you needed was a sharp stone, a solid stick to tie it to and congratulations, you had yourself a hammer. You could then show off to your tribe, fix your roof, hunt some animals with it and if you were lucky enough you’d impress your tribe’s beauty in the process.
Today, we make apps that satisfy the same needs. Apps to order food or clothing for us while we swipe for our next potential life partner on a dating app. To create these tools you need “Ninja” developers, “passionate” designers, a “positive mindset” and all the other buzzwords that are used to fill online job postings. With A LOT more time! If you think about it, we made things a lot harder for ourselves.
A chatty creature
One of the most-used tools in history is the tongue: The marvellous organ that transforms sounds coming out of your mouth into something others can understand. It is reliable, flexible, and portable.
Today after some thousands of years of evolution, we’ve found a new tool for real-time communication. Texting apps are now some of the most popular apps used. You don’t need the physical presence of a person to communicate anymore, you can text them while taking the train, in your bed or even while on the toilet if you’re one of those people who do that.
Before, if you wanted to announce that you hunted a large animal, you’d have to gather the tribe in the center of the village and announce it with your very loud voice. Now, however, when you want to announce that you got your dream job, all you have to do is post an update on Facebook with some inspirational quotes and emojis for effect
We’re the same social creatures but with unfiltered access to lots of people. More, in fact, than before.
Whether searching for food and water, seeking shelter from the cold weather, or running from wild animals, we had to travel great distances back in the day! For this we used two tools that usually come as a package-deal: hands and legs. To navigate our way through the wilderness we used our memories and the stars to guide us, some of us more successfully than others
Nowadays, to book your next trip for business or luxurious reasons, all you have to do is visit your favorite travel app and tap your dream destination. The planning part is still on you, though.
Survival of the fittest?!
The challenges early human society faced were different than the ones we face today. To survive in the pre-civilized world, you had to keep away from wild animals, wildfire, and wild neighbours hungry for your plot of land.
A tribe needed look and be strong to protect themselves. Fortunately, the world today is moving towards a seemingly more peaceful future. And yet, there’s a new kind of power that makes society more menacing than physical weapons alone
Humans tried to look and be powerful in all sort of ways during their history, either by dressing with fearful or colorful clothes, owning a big chunk of land or even by having the biggest army with the deadliest and fiercest weapons possible. Even still, humans didn’t really have control of each other's minds until the last decades of the 20th century, when personal data replaced oil as the most valuable resource on the planet. Data is the new weapon that dominant societies will soon find themselves fighting each other for.
Maybe we didn’t move toward world in which survival is dependent on how strong and fit you are, we just changed what it means to be strong.
Alexa! Show me the future
It will be amazing when we can ask our voice assistants to show us the future. Maybe the psychic feature will appear in the next update! In the meantime, here are my personal predictions for human tools in the future:
One app to rule them all
The invention of the smartphone created the possibility of only having one device to carry around for handling our busy lives. Now we’re moving towards a future where we’ll only need one app to handle all of our social interactions.
People are tired of having to install multiple apps for various purposes and different user experiences. Each day we move closer to a one-tool system. You can see this happening already in China with the WeChat app.
Apps as we know them, will not be around for long. Apps installed on devices that we carry around all the time will soon be replaced by embedded apps that are installed into our human bodies: Our one, permanent device.
Human cyborgs will become normalized and you just might be one of them. But unlike the cyborgs you see in movies, these will just be regular human beings with, shall we say, “extra features.”
Death can be avoided with a quick update, a bug fix or a new feature to your body. WiFi disconnection will be as fatal as a heart attack!
Stay safe by staying connected.
Maybe we don’t know too much about what the future will bring but looking back to our past, we can predict that our needs as a species will still be the same, only the way we satisfy them will be different.