Now I am become Life

The movie Oppenheimer gets much of its punch from it’s hero’s most famous quote. You don’t need to have seen the film to know what that quote was.

Upon witnessing a successful test of a nuclear weapon, Oppenheimer quoted the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death,” he said, “the destroyer of worlds.”

Which gets me wondering what kind of real life story would inspire a biopic built around the hypothetical opposite quote: “Now I am become Life, the creator of worlds.”

I suspect that it would be a very different story.


When I was a little kid I remember that my parents gave me my grandparents’ old discarded telephone to play with. It was one of those phones that had an old fashioned electro-mechanical ringer inside it.

I took it apart and examined the innards. What I saw was very educational.

There was a metal springy clapper that was designed to hit a bell. When it hit the bell, that would connect an electric circuit that would activate an electromagnet. The electromagnet would then attract the clapper which would pull back toward the electromagnet. When that happened, the electric circuit became disconnected, which turned off the magnetic attraction.

The clapper would then fly back toward the bell striking it again. This would repeat over and over again as long as the ringing was supposed to continue.

Even today, when you hear a classic ringtone, you were hearing a re-creation of this electro-mechanical mechanism.

What was wonderful about this was that even I, a small child, could see this and trace through and understand the principle. Sadly, that is no longer the case with today’s all-electronic mechanisms.

Self driving cars

In order for self driving cars to really take off, all cars would need to be self driving. That would solve many problems at once.

Essentially, the cars would all be nodes in a single network. At all times they would be cooperating with one another, acting as coordinated cells within a single organism.

Perhaps the only way this could get started would be if some enterprising corporation made it happen. They would need to offer a fleet of vehicles to an entire municipality, completely replacing traditional automobiles.

I wonder whether anybody will actually do this.


At some point in the future, people will no longer be looking at physical screens. Somebody might look at a virtual screen in order to simulate the experience of looking at a physical screen, but that will be a software construct.

Eventually, the entire idea of screens may fade away, replaced by something that is much more natural and immersive and closer to the way that humans communicated before TVs and computers came along.

When that happens, future generations may come to see our old fashioned movies and TV shows as quaint, or even unwatchable. Maybe the old content will need to be processed to make sense to future generations.

Old black and white movies are sometimes colorized to make them more palatable to modern audiences. Maybe the same thing will happen with flat screen movies and TV shows. In order to make sense to future modern audiences, they will need to be volumized.

What would change?

Suppose, just for the sake of argument, that all of the information on Wikipedia was in your head as instant recall. Any factoid — whether famous birthday, significant historical event, geographic location or anatomical nomenclature — as well as any scientific explanation, economic theory or notable literary quote and its associated meaning, would be right there in your head, without needing to be looked up.

What would this change? Would it mean that we work differently, play differently, socialize differently? Would we remain fundamentally the same as a social species, or would there be a radical shift of some sort?

I don’t know the answers, but I suspect that these are going to become important questions.

Travel by Costco

Today I went to a Costco in a strange city. Although I had never been in this Costco before, it seemed eerily familiar.

It’s because the layout was exactly the same as the Costco where I often shop. For a moment I had the crazy thought that I was back at the other Costco.

And then I started thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if Costco’s were actually cosmically connected. If you have the right sort of membership, you could enter into one and exit out another.

This would be such a good way to travel. It might not even require a mandatory purchase.

If that were true, I would definitely say that membership has its privileges.

Plugged in at the beach

I distinctly remember the first time I saw someone with a cellphone at the beach. It was 1992 on a lovely beach in northern Brazil.

A man was lying peacefully on the sand, eyes closed, sunning himself, his cellphone right beside him. Which was unusual, because in that year cellphones were unusual, at least in the U.S. If you had one back then, it was because you needed it for work.

I remember thinking that this could be terrible or it could be great. Terrible because the man clearly was unable to get away from whatever work and responsibilities were glueing him to that phone. Great because he was able to be at the beach even while he was working.

Today I was looking at my Quest Pro, and thinking that in 5 or 10 years some more advanced version of this will have the form factor of sunglasses. And then, in some form, I will probably see a repeat of exactly the same scene.

A person will be lying on the beach with what look like sunglasses, but which I will know to be functioning smart glasses. And I will be left thinking that this could be terrible or it could be great.

Future sound track

I wonder whether AI will advance to the point where we can each have our own personal soundtrack. Wherever you are, the computer will figure out the right mood to fit your current situation.

It might even compose something original, based on your tastes. Maybe it would be a new way to create music.