It’s taken me 60 years, but I had an epiphany recently: Everything, without exception, requires additional energy and order to maintain itself. I knew this in the abstract as the famous second law of thermodynamics, which states that everything is falling apart slowly. This realization is not just the lament of a person getting older. Long ago I learnt that even the most inanimate things we know of - stone, iron columns, copper pipes, gravel roads, a piece of paper - won’t last very long without attention and fixing and the loan of additional order. Existence, it seems, is chiefly maintenance.
What has surprised me recently is how unstable even the intangible is. Keeping a website or a software program afloat is like keeping a yacht afloat. It is a black hole for attention. I can understand why a mechanical device like a pump would break down after a while - moisture rusts metal, or the air oxidizes membranes, or lubricants evaporate, all of which require repair. But I wasn’t thinking that the non-material world of bits would also degrade. What’s to break? Apparently everything.
Brand-new computers will ossify. Apps weaken with use. Code corrodes. Fresh software just released will immediately begin to fray. On their own - nothing you did. The more complex the gear, the more (not less) attention it will require. The natural inclination toward change is inescapable, even for the most abstract entities we know of: bits.
And then there is the assault of the changing digital landscape. When everything around you is upgrading, this puts pressure on your digital system and necessitates maintenance. You may not want to upgrade, but you must because everyone else is. It’s an upgrade arms race.
I used to upgrade my gear begrudgingly (Why upgrade if it still works?) and at the last possible moment. You know how it goes: Upgrade this and suddenly you need to upgrade that, which triggers upgrades everywhere. I would put it off for years because I had the experiences of one "tiny" upgrade of a minor part disrupting my entire working life. But as our personal technology is becoming more complex, more co-dependents upon peripherals, more like a living ecosystem, delaying upgrading is even more disruptive. If you neglect ongoing minor upgrades, the change backs up so much that the eventual big upgrade reaches traumatic proportions. So I now see upgrading as a type of hygiene: You do it regularly to keep your tech healthy. Continual upgrades are so critical for technological systems that they are now automatic for the major personal computer operating systems and some software apps. Behind the scenes, the machines will upgrade themselves, slowly changing their features over time. This happens gradually, so we don‘t notice they are "becoming."
We take this evolution as normal.
Technological life in the future will be a series of endless upgrades. And the rate of graduations is accelerating. Features shift, defaults disappear, menus morph. I’ll open up a software package I don’t use every day expecting certain choices, and whole menus will have disappeared.
No matter how long you have been using a tool, endless upgrades make you into a newbie - the new user often seen as clueless. In this era of "becoming" everyone becomes a newbie. Worse, we will be newbies forever. That should keep us humble.
That bears repeating. All of us - every one of us - will be endless newbies in the future simply trying to keep up. Here’s why: First, most of the important technologies that will dominate life 30 years from now have not yet been invented, so naturally you’ll be a newbie to them. Second, because the new technology requires endless upgrades, you will remain in the newbie state. Third, because the cycle of obsolescence is accelerating (the average lifespan of a phone app is a mere 30 days!), you won’t have time to master anything before it is displaced, so you will remain in the newbie mode forever. Endless Newbie is the new default for everyone, no matter your age or experience.
Which of the following statements would the author agree with the most?
- The second law of thermodynamics states that things need more energy as they separate.
- When it comes to erosion, intangibles behave differently from tangible
- Up-gradation is no longer an option but an obligation
- Up-gradation though simple is disruptive
- In the next thirty years, one‘s experience in up-grading will be greatly valued.
Which of the following quotes would the author agree with the most?
- Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to avoid falling, you must keep moving.
- The only thing constant in life is change
- You must be the change you wish to see in the world
- If you do not change you will be changed
- What we can‘t cure we must endure.
The CEO of a technology company was thinking of the following policies.
1. Life time employment
2. Promotion based on seniority
3. Hire new competent employees and fire old incompetent employees
4. Regular training and retraining
If a CEO were to consult the author of the , which of the above policies should the author recommend?
- 1 or 3
- 1 or 4
- 2 or 4
- 3 or 4
- 1, 3 and 4