The future scenarios associated with The Seven Ages of Computer Connectivity are flush with possibilities regarding the access and utilization of digital information. The Computer Age encapsulates historically similar technology developments and utilization themes to predict future technologies for utilizing information. The Information Age sees information as a commodity that can be shaped, stored, and sold quickly and easily over vast, interconnected computer networks. The Shocked/Virtual Age customizes ways to distribute and use information as a commodity to reshape society. The Aquarian Age focuses specifically on using information for mind enhancement and human potential augmentation. The Telespheral Age champions opportunities for ubiquitous telecommunications that will allow us to maintain constant contact with information. The Transhuman Age suggests that human sentience may, in the future, become information by merging in some way with computer technology. And The Digital Age predicts that the dominant parts of human interaction and communication will be encoded into digital instructions that will facilitate interconnection and the personalization of information we send and receive.

We need not wait for these future ages of computer connectivity; they have already arrived. Computer connectivity is already deeply embedded in our lives and culture. Computer technology controls our alarm clocks, digital watches, coffee makers, hot water heaters, microwave ovens, hairdryers, automobiles, automatic cameras, calculators, television sets, VCRs, telephones, telephone answering machines, street lights, traffic signals, washers, and dryers---just to name a few. We allow computer technology to assume most of the responsibility for maintaining records related to our financial lives. We receive computer-generated bills, and often pay them via computer. We withdraw money from computer-controlled ATM machines. We also allow computer technology to keep track of our personal lives. Our medical, social security, insurance, and motor vehicle information is a commodity that can be manipulated by computers. We shop online, often leaving profiles of preferences on file so that we may be notified of special purchase or entertainment opportunities. These are just a few examples of how we have embraced and are currently using the predictions of The Computer Age and The Information Age.

As predicted by The Virtual/Shocked Age, it is currently possible to receive customized news reports from many online information providers, as it is to engage in literally thousands of specialized online discussions. Schools and organizations are moving aggressively to provide online education and information opportunities. As predicted by The Aquarian Age, many of these opportunities focus on the development of human potential.

As our reliance on computer connectivity increases in size and capability, so seemingly do our needs and desires for communication abilities. But, no need to wait for The Telespheral Age; the future is now. Between our wired and wireless telephone systems we can call anyone anywhere in the world at any time. And if the person we are calling is away from a telephone we can still reach them via fax machines, voice mail message, or digital paging.

Although we have not downloaded human sentience into a computer chip, we have endowed computer technology with many aspects of the human spirit, perhaps as a way to humanize this technology. The result is that we currently are achieving many of the promises made by The Transhuman Age. For example, computers answer home and business telephones with synthesized voices in our absence. We routinely don cyberpersona in order to meet and interact with others in cyberspace, the space between interconnected computers, leaving our physical bodies behind at our computer keyboards. And whether in the form of pacemakers or other computer-controlled monitoring devices, computer technology is being absorbed into our bodies.

And, as predicted by The Digital Age, this kind of interaction and communication is achieved through the encoding of our thoughts, feelings, and reactions into digital instructions that allow us to personalize and customize the information we send and receive, as well as facilitate our constant reinvention of ourselves.

In conclusion, futurists predict worlds where the ability of computer connectivity to store, retrieve, share, and make information will be profoundly different than the one we currently inhabit. I have outlined some of their predictions in my discussion of The Seven Ages of Computer Connectivity. The themes promoted by each of these ages swirl and circle back and forth on each other, each maintaining a sense of uniqueness while contributing to a overall scenario that is already part and parcel of our daily lives. As a result we realize that in thinking about the future we are, in fact, confronting the questions of the present. And this puts us right back whence we began: flush with possibilities and faced with decisions.
"The Seven Ages of Computer Connectivity" (Conclusion)
by John F. Barber