By Tobias van Schneider Published January 11, 2016
For some reason, every time a year ends I get a little emotional and enter a reflective stage. I try to zoom out, look at the bigger picture and analyze all the things that happened.
But today I was thinking about more than just this past year. I started thinking about how much our world has changed in just the last 100 years.
There are human beings on earth who were born more than 100 years ago. We call them centenarians, people who live to or beyond the age of 100 years. In 2016, in the USA alone there were about 72.000 people at the age of 100 or above. And all this against an average life expectancy of 54 in 1915. (These are estimates, I did not count them myself.)
As you can imagine, these people have seen a world so different to what you and me know today. So from that perspective, one hundred years isn’t really a long time ago when looking at the grand scale of human history. But let’s have a look:
100 years ago:
…there was no space travel, not even close to that. There was not a single satellite and no ISS space station. In fact, in 1914 (just a little over 100 years ago) the first passenger plane with 16 people did it’s first successful test flight. So much about aviation.
Since then, we not only put about 2300 satellites in space, but we also landed on the moon and put robots on Mars. Crazy!
100 years ago — There was no Internet. Communication was way way different. And to be exact: The first transcontinental call took place in 1915 by Alexander Graham Bell in New York & Thomas Watson in San Francisco.
Today we send emojis through space in under a second. Because we fucking can!
100 years ago — There was no real computer. Okay, to be honest, a little over 100 years ago the first thing of what you can call a computer was manufactured with the name of “the Ford Instrument Computer”. But it wasn’t more than a mechanical analog device, and certainly not for consumers.
Today we carry one of the most powerful computers in our pockets. Crushing candy’s ever since!
100 years ago — There was no commercial successful full color photography equipment yet. Sure we invented colored photographs a few years before 1915, but only in 1915 it slowly took off in popularity. All this with the introduction of the Parvo Model L camera, one of the first hand-held cameras available for consumers like you and me.
Today we are in the golden age of photography. Shooting selfies many times a day. Gosh, we’re all looking so fabulous.
The world just 100 years was very different. Can you imagine that it took from 50,000 BC to 1815 to reach 1 billion people on earth?
Then 100 years to double this to 2 billion in 1815, and in ONLY the last 100 years we tripled this to over 7 billion people. That’s a lot of love making right there.
We can argue about this, but within the last 100 years more has changed on our planet than any other time in the entire human history.
And we are right in the middle of it. It’s exciting. I can’t even sit still so excited I am to just think of the next 10 or 20 years.
The thing is, we always overestimate the things we can do in a short amount of time. But completely underestimate what we can do in the long term. And long term really just means 5–10 years.
We often like to think of the future as linear progression, thats the way we humans think of the simple things. If I can plant one tree a day, then in 30 days I will have 30 trees. So mistakenly we apply the same thinking to technological innovation. If my smart phone has 1GB storage today, it has 2GB tomorrow, and 3GB the day after.
But looking back at the last 100 years we clearly see that we’re progressing exponential. It’s not a secret, but we always have to remind ourselves again of this simple fact.
With that, I’m excited for the year to come. Things will change faster than we think but being mentally & physically prepared is one of the things I want to focus on in this upcoming year. And yes, that includes updating my “big list”.