I am currently in the UK visiting family and friends and discovered that I am still in awe of how technology has changed our lives. One hundred years ago I could not have travelled from Abu Dhabi to London in under 10 hours. Air travel has become so much a part of our lives that we are no longer amazed by it.
If my great grandfather had wanted to make the trip he would have had to use various forms of animal drawn vehicles and then sailed accross the ocean. A trip of several weeks and not the pleasure cruises of today. Passengers of those days were subject to danger and disease and arrival at ones destination in one piece was not guaranteed. This made me think about how technology has shaped the first few days of this trip.
Well firstly I was able to let people know of my safe arrival thanks to cellular technology and overpriced internaltional roaming facilities. I was able to keep my daughter, who was waiting for me in the arrivals hall, up to date on my progress through immigration and customs.
My Shiny new SA Passport has a thick plastic page with all my biometrics in it. The immigration officer was able to confirm my identily by capturing my thumbprint on a digital reader. No longer any need for ink although the SA Embassy in Abu Dhabi is still using the old messy technique to capture them.
My walk through the green channel was a breeze. By the time I collected my luggage the authorities already were aware of whether I was or wasn't carrying any contraband as my bag had been screened electronically several times during its journey. No need to remove the plastic covering in place to deter those with old fashioned nefarious intentions.
I did not have to obtain foreign currency or travellers cheques prior to my departure. All I needed was that shiny little piece of plastic with a chip in it. I was able to use an ATM on arrival with no problem. Within seconds I received a text from my bank confirming my withdrawl. It was comforting to know that my bank has my back and I can be alerted instantaneously to possible fraud.
I don't even need an ATM as very few vendors do not accept credit cards. I saw a woman yesterday purchase a small item at IKEA and pay for it with her card. It seems that this is the way to go these days. There is no protection for the use of cash. It actually doesn't make too much sense to use it. Considering the problem of forgery surely the cashless society cannot be too far off?
On Saturday I watched West Ham win the play off final to gain promotion to the UK premier league. Within minutes of the final whistle I was discussing the game with fellow fans all over the world who had watched the game live on their home networks. I can remember being glued to my radio in 1966 listening to the Soccer World Cup Finals only seeing visuals weeks later on the movie newsreels.
While my family is out at work I am able to easily find my way around unfamiliar territory. The Maps app on my phone is able to provide me with the route, tell me which bus to catch, where to catch it and when the next one will be coming around. I used my Oyster card which still had a few pounds on it from my last visit to pay for my trips and once on board an electronic board alerted me to the upcoming stops. Before leaving the house I was able to decide what clothes to wear by consulting the weather app.
I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that technology has made the journey away from our familiar place of comfort into a journey to a new place of comfort. Hell I am even able to continue posting to MyDL with very little effort. I am not sure how much longer I have on this mortal coil, but one thing is for sure in the time left to me I will see many more technological advances that will change the ways I experience life. Hopefully they will be changes for the better.