To me it’s amazing how such wondrous technological advances become mundane so quickly, the future is here and nobody is astonished.
The first book was published in 1997. The characters have very handy magic wands, which among other things can be used as flashlights. They can send magical letters (howlers) that can yell at someone in the sender's voice.
Fast forward to 2021, and suddenly everyone is walking around with a fancy tool in their pocket that can be a flashlight, instantly video chat with people, and answer questions on nearly any topic.
Even the offensive spells seem inferior to modern weapons. The wizards have to recite an incantation for every shot, while assault rifles can spray 900 rounds per minute.
Back in the 90s, CDs were the height of getting music. 1 disk would carry around 24 songs. That's it. The internet was accessible, but limited to around 56kbps on a desktop. Mobile data wasn't a thing. Texting wasn't a thing. Cell phones were barely a thing, but coverage was practically non-existent.
Most people got their media only from broadcast stations. You had radio, television, and the newspaper and that was pretty much it.
The fact that data is available pretty much everywhere is incredible. Even in the last 10 years, we've went from data being only available in the cities to being able to stream video in all but the most remote parts of the US.
On top of that, something not really appreciated by the general public is just how good codecs have gotten. It is INCREDIBLE what can be done with the same amount of bandwidth we had in the 90s. AV1 + Opus can very nearly stream SD content at 56kbps! 1Mbps wasn't enough for SD content with MPEG2 and MP3 audio. Now, 1Mbps is enough for 1080p HD content.
We had cassettes and vinyl. I didn't have a Sony Walkman but my first personal cassette player was similar. It was too big to go in a pocket and was generally worn clipped to a belt or on a shoulder lanyard under your coat. By the time I went to Plymouth Poly (UK) in 1989 your cassette player was small enough to fit in the breast pocket of your sleeveless denim over jacket (over the leather jacket that is!)
My first home PC was a ZX80 with 1Kb of RAM - not all of the 1Kb was available. Later I had a C64 which nowadays has a USB interface - I re capped it, sorted out a few other details and got it going again. The first game I played on it in 2018 when it sparked up was "attack of the mutant camels" - a Jeff Minter classic.
Which are both still being manufactured :)
I'm 35, I remember in 7th grade when the industrial tech teacher told us that "one day in the future, you'll have this little cube in your hand mimes an inch or so cube that holds hundreds of CDs worth of music and that is how you'll listen to them" Yeah, sure Mr. Pedigo... fortunately he lived long enough to see the iPod come into existence before leukemia took him way too early.
You can have an obscene amount of music on this tiny little sliver of a micro SD card but we still have artists putting their albums out on cassette and vinyl. It's so strange and wonderful at the same time.
We never envisioned that NVMe would end up being the storage medium of choice for pretty much everyone.
I still remember my first 128MB usb drive. At the time I was like "Wow, this holds about 100 floppies worth of data, insane!"
It was one of these (though I believe the model before).
Blazing fast 20MB/s write and 300MB/s read (lol)
how I wanted to learn advanced math topics, foreign languages, etc, but there was no way for me to learn it.
How amazed I was when our school library got those encyclopedia disks and we can look up a lot of things
how I use to dial home with 2 rings to signal my mom to pick me up at school. Telephone company eventually gave us a huge bill.
when I wanted to experiment with linux and other various tech, but getting ahold of hardware to experiment with was too expensive for me.
I also grew up in idaho mountains so you can imagine how bad radio stations were. Nothing but talk radio and one "hits" station.
Napster was a small lifeline into the rest of the world, though for the longest time we were 5 to 10 years behind the rest of the world when it came to things like pop music. It was bizarre!
I eventually got the fat iPod, the first 20 GB. I loaded my whole library and could listen to whatever album I wanted on my walk home from school in the winter.
Reminds me of a light novel, where the MC used witches' magics to bootstrap his industrial process, instead of fighting directly with magic.
Out of curiosity, do you recall the title / author?
I'm not a good writer, so this will likely end up a military porn story to the tune of Salvation War - so perhaps it's best if it remains unwritten. But really, if you think about it, the Wizarding World wouldn't stand a chance against even single organized operation by a modern muggle state military.
 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDX5uToKuPY
 - https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/TheSalvati...
My favorite little bit of the series so far was how humans eventually figured out what makes Basilisks tick, managed to replicate it on an FPGA, and turned CCTV cameras into defense turrets.
it's sort of like an in-world deus ex machina device, much like many of the spells and artifacts in the HP franchise.
 : https://harrypotter.fandom.com/wiki/Fidelius_Charm
In the book:
> As long as the Secret-Keeper refused to speak, You-Know-Who could search the village where Lily and James were staying for years and never find them, not even if he had his nose pressed against their sitting room window!
This raises a lot of uncomfortable metaphysical and epistemological questions. Is this a purely psychological effect? Or does this operate on the information itself? If it operates on information itself, how big can you scale the effect?
Ignoring magic, if such an effect truly exists, what are its implications for information theory? (Especially since the information is clearly not destroyed as the spell can be undone.) Information itself could become weaponized. Can a RAM bit flip be triggered though the application of such an effect? Or is this effect purely mental?
What about second and third order effects? Does the effect propagate? Assume a machine learning system with the following knowledge/word vectors: Food + Italy = Pasta. If Italy is placed under the fidelius, are the vectors and weights going to magically re-arrange themselves? How will people talk about the dish pasta?
Of all the spells in J.K. Rowling's world this is probably the most creative/disturbing. The whole gimmick with the seven horcruxes is merely distributed systems theory applied to a lich's phylactery, a concept that can be traced back millennia to various ancient civilizations. Splitting and and anchoring soul has nothing on arbitrarily erasing, manipulating, and restoring information itself on an infinitely large scale.
"An antimeme is an idea with self-censoring properties; an idea which, by its intrinsic nature, discourages or prevents people from spreading it."
Cell phones existed, but they were just phones and few people had them. Now everyone walks around with this multi-tool that's of comparable utility to a magic wand. Phones now have a flashlight, camera, calling, video chat, maps and navigation, Google, real-time language translation, etc. The Harry Potter series doesn't have magic versions of all of these abilities specifically, but they all seem like things that could have seemed magical in 1997. In 1997, you might think having a map that updates your position live, or can automatically find the nearest burger restaurant is really cool and magical.
If you've ever fantasized about what it would be like to live in a world with magic, here's one perspective: we do live with magic, and you get used to it.
"You’re flying! It’s amazing! Everybody on every plane should just constantly be going: “Oh my God! Wow!” You’re flying! You’re sitting in a chair, in the sky!”"
I am constantly amazed that computers work at all. The more I learn about it the more amazed I am that anything works. Especially software wise I see soo much duct tape on so many layers, like looking at a house of cards that could (or rather should!) crumble down any minute, because it seems to defy reality.
Old enough that ATM's were a big change.
Before that, it was a Friday trip to the bank to get cash for the weekend. Credit
When I toured some kids around the Stanford cell therapy lab, filled with over a billion dollars of cutting edge equipment, the thing they were most impressed with was the eye wash station.
They MARVELED at the damn eye wash station. Technology that has been around for ... over hundreds of years and otherwise hasn't really changed. They asked more questions about the damn eye wash station than anything else, lol.
*I wasn't driving. Also horrible ping.
But, re: "why lasers are useful", it's in the name. They're a way to get a spatial and phase coherent light source that's actually high power. In the old days they'd have to take a mercury arc lamp and put a pinhole in front of it. The pinhole gave it coherence but traded away all the intensity.
On another tangent, I still CANNOT believe that one company at least within the US controls 100% of the issuance of UPC codes. They sell them for up to *$30 A PIECE*! We need a "LetsEncrypt" for UPC codes - granted they serve an important role in load balancing across online stores, preventing counterfeit goods and in Amazon's case... penalizing sellers when they find the same UPC being sold on another online platform at a lower price ;)
Lasers will always be cool
Maybe thats because that is always the case (even though progress accelerated).
But since for most people the future still means they slave away in a boring job, that might be a reason they are not thrilled all the time.
on a couple occasions, I've flown in small GA planes. a bit bumpy for my tastes, but there really is a sense of wonder and awe when you can just ask the pilot to fly anywhere and see what stuff looks like from the sky. I don't get the same feeling on commercial flights; I just experience being stuck in a metal tube with beige plastic trim for a few hours. I'm still amazed by what computers can do, but to most people they are just "the thing I use to browse instagram".
When they're ubiquitous they lose a lot of wonder. But furthermore, a lot of these advances are buried/not directly visible to the end-user. Think of a CD player: You use a laser to produce sound from (what apppears to be) a smooth plastic disc.
I bet the concept of the wheel was pretty damn wondrous in the beginning too.
In short order people got electric light (magic! just flick a switch), phonographs (on hearing one, people apparently went looking for the soprano behind the curtain), moving pictures (there are stories of audiences being panicked by a film--black and white, 16 fps, grainy, silent, and all--of a train coming toward the camera), radio (plays, orchestras, and other entertainment from hundreds of miles away), and all sorts of wonderful houshold appliances like refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and electric heaters and stoves which saved tens of hours per week. And glow-in-the-dark radium watches, and telephones.
Having lived through these (in a rural area, things came a bit later than in the big cities) my mother-in-law was unimpressed by the movies about Buck Rogers rocketing around the solar system and Dick Tracy's video wristwatch, taking them as just things that hadn't made it to her town yet.
Lasers are great tech,I used to be fascinated by them when I was a kid devouring science literature. I hope I'll more great use cases in the near future.
Ophthalmology without lasers would look like a middle-ages practice.
Laser is pretty much everywhere.
Then someone invented the laser and it was like you build a cart and someone with a horse to pull it came around the corner.
And nothing else, because tracking things in the real world instead of currency requires trust that what's on the chain really is what is in the real world, and besides there are lots of highly trusted institutions in the world that it's not practical to do without, like the judiciary system.
You're quite right that "solution in search of a problem" is not accurate, though.
Which can be done neatly by having the things in the database have value, so that the reward can also be inside the system, i.e. mining coins.
Other databases people come up with always have problems with 51% attacks, so the system isn't made completely open, so it's pointless because then more traditional solutions are better.
Sure, but that's a mechanism, not a goal.
If we can somehow make cheap VCSELs that emit blue or green light, red, green, and blue VCSELs could even take over general purpose lighting. One imagines a TV where each subpixel is a VCSEL. It would potentially be better even than microLED displays. The spectral purity would give really amazing colors.
For example, we have reached standards of insulation, weather-proofing, and energy efficiency that would just blow the mind of any builder from just 30 years ago (not that there isn't room for improvement).
It's not flying cars or robot butlers, but it impresses me at least.
Pun trains are so lazy - all you do to join the train is create a low effort sentence out of (in this case) something remotely related to lasers - Light, Amplification, Stimulation, Emission, Radiation, etc. It's not clever, and it spams up the thread enough that you have to collapse the train to see the next interesting comment.
tl;dr (hehe) You'll likely be happier if you care less.
Light Amplification from Stimulated Emission of Radiation Interferometric Gravitational-wave Observatory-Virgo-Kamioka Gravitational Wave Detector Academic Advisory Committee.
It's like looking at the preprocessor output from some template heavy C++ code.
GTK which stands for GIMP Toolkit where
GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program where
GNU stands for GNU is Not UNIX where
UNIX stands for Uniplexed Information and Computing System
And on top of that there is a variety of software built on GTK whose names are acronyms containing a G that stands for GTK.
Or any other terms that specifically evolved in Earth societies and cultures, like “katana” in Dungeons & Dragons and so on.
That's true (pretty much by definition) of literally every word in English, though. (Yes, "katana" is a english word; the fact that it's derived from a japanese word (namely "刀" aka "かたな") doesn't change that, any more than "pizza" (italian) or "beef" (french, a long time ago).)