Have you ever stopped and noticed how the technology we use to keep ourselves entertained gets smaller and smaller?
I grew up with huge box-sized TV sets and bulky front-loader VCRs. A movie cassette was as big as a book. Then came the DVD—significantly slimmer, in a neat streamlined case. After the DVD? Digital files downloaded from the Internet onto your hard drive. Then files that could simply be streamed from the service provider or the cloud, eliminating even the need to mess with storing any media yourself.
What is the next step here? Movies and TV streamed directly into the brain, a “neural download”? Our brainwaves themselves, pulled out of the ether and packaged as the ultimate in fascinating “reality” programming?
Or will it be drugs?
At a recent Wall Street Journal event, Netflix head Reed Hastings said that new technology might be on the way to make our current models—such as the Netflix streaming service—obsolete. He then suggested the form this new model might take may be “pharmacological”:
In twenty or fifty years, taking a personalized blue pill you just hallucinate in an entertaining way and then a white pill brings you back to normality is perfectly viable…And if the source of human entertainment in thirty or forty years is pharmacological we’ll be in real trouble.
My only comment to add here is that it would probably be less than 20-50 years. We have the technology to project our brainwaves as images. Advances in pharmacology have been somewhat hard to pinpoint outside of medical applications, thanks to the suppression of LSD research starting in the late 1960s—but I have to believe that if the “recreational” aspects of the drugs are being studied somewhere, creating ones that produce a whole season’s worth of the acclaimed TV series du jour (or, at least, a sense of it) couldn’t be that far off.