How Technology Has Improved Our Lives

“If you want to know the future, look at the past” — Albert Einstein

18th century

Let’s start with the past. If we go 300 years back in time, we find ourselves in the 18th century. It was the beginning of the first Industrial Revolution, where the first machines revolutionized the manufacturing processes and society at large. How was life back then? By the standards of a modern-day man, it was rough.

In the 18th century, men’s wigs were powdered to give them their distinctive white or off-white color. (Regents of the Aalmoezeniersweeshuis Orphanage in Amsterdam, 1729)

Communication

Now that we have a mental picture of the situation, how did people communicate with each other in those days? Before smartphones or even the radio were invented, how did people make plans on when to meet or tell each other how they were doing?

Education

Places of education have existed in different ways since the earliest populations. Yet, before the 18th century, most schools were focused on teaching specific professions: religious positions, health care workers, and bureaucrats. Thanks to the Enlightenment movement (very interested in scientific methods), the educational system was highly modernized. The improvements, as a result, were higher literacy rates and demand for more printed material from readers across a broader span of social classes

Transportation

Technological innovations resulting from the Industrial Revolution made railway transportation (and bicycles) possible. But this only happened at the beginning of the following century. In the 1700s, people only had a few ways to move: by foot, by horse (donkey, camel, etc.), by carriage, by boat, and by hot-air balloon.

The Travelling Companions, 1862. Artist: Augustus Leopold Egg

Entertainment

What did people do in their spare time? Playing board games was quite common (chess, domino or backgammon, and many more), as well as reading books and newspapers (for those who could read). Additionally, people used to play card games and gamble. Sports were quite popular too: tennis, cricket, a slightly different version of today’s football, horse racing, etc. The Enlightenment Age pushed the construction of theaters with stages in several towns, therefore watching plays became a widespread hobby. Since the social classes were well-demarcated, the rich and poor did not mix in these activities.

Health

Living conditions in the 18th century were poor. With many families moving to towns to find work, the demand for cheap housing became way higher than the supply. Many families were forced to live in single-room apartments or cellars with unhealthy air and drinking water was often contaminated. The death rate in most towns was high. In London for example, some districts reached an infant mortality rate of around 75%.

The first stethoscope was invented by René Laennec in 1816

Today

300 years later, life looks quite different. It is clear looking back that technical innovations have led to improved living conditions. This doesn’t mean that we are not facing difficulties anymore, but we do have better tools to deal with them.

Communication

While letters could take weeks (and sometimes months) to get to the recipient, now we have the so-called instant messaging. Through our phones, we can be in contact with almost anybody anywhere at any time.

Education

300 years ago, if you had 10 friends, 4 of them didn’t know how to read because they hadn’t received any education. Today, if you think about the people you know, it’s very likely that all of them went to school. The literacy rate worldwide in 2020 is 86.3%, which goes up to almost 100% in many European countries.

Transportation

We have come a very long way in the last 300 years! Imagine you want to go from Paris to Rome today. You could travel by car, bus, train, plane, or even by boat (although this option would be quite inefficient). Improved transport systems have thus enabled us to travel. Mass tourism developed only in the 20th century. Today, 1.4 billion people travel every year (with France being the country with the highest number of visitors).

Entertainment

Technology has revolutionized entertainment to the extent that nowadays we have almost unlimited choices on how to spend our free time. The first projection of moving pictures took place in 1895. Television was invented in 1927. The very first video game was invented in 1958 — a very simple tennis game invented by the physicist William Higinbotham. Finally, the internet came to life in 1983.

Health

Finally, if we compare the healthcare system of the past with the one we have today, we have certainly come a long way! First of all, in the 18th century, the public healthcare system didn’t even exist. Germany in fact has the world’s oldest national social health insurance system, which was invented only in 1883. Moreover, technological innovations, of which AI is perhaps one of the most important, have enabled incredible improvements.

24th century

What we can learn from the past is that new technologies have improved our lives. Since the earliest civilisations, every technological innovation has allowed us to evolve a little further, improving our living conditions. So what can we expect from the future? It is difficult to say, especially considering how much things have changed in the last 300 years. Yet, looking at current patterns, we can get some ideas.

  • Communication: How could communication become even faster and more efficient than it is today? If we could connect our brains to a digital world, we may become able to exchange ideas without having to type them; enabling communication more direct and efficient than ever.
  • Education: With the development of technology, the current school system is becoming obsolete. In addition, new technologies will bring new jobs — so there will be a need for appropriate education.
  • Transportation: Flying cars? Space travel? Seeing what we’ve managed to achieve in the past, it’s hard to put a limit to the imagination.
  • Entertainment: For now, the focus is mainly on sight and hearing. We still have many senses to conquer.
  • Health: Maybe we will achieve digital immortality. Or we’ll be able to beat aging and cure diseases like cancer or revive cryopreserved patients.
Do you want to know what the future will look like?

Conclusion

Nobody knows what the future will look like in 300 years and it’s likely that many of us will never find out. If you want a chance to see the future, cryopreservation is for you! Sign up and join a community of technology enthusiasts. If you want to learn more, book a call with us!

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