You now have more than 24 hours in a day, sort of.
Thanks to technology, we are able to accomplish more things in a day than ever before. It’s almost like tech has given us extra hours to help us get it all done.
When the electric light bulb was created, it opened up the dark hours of the day. Slack is taking over offices around the world, and employees can now be expected to be reachable at all hours. As our tech becomes more and more capable, our time use becomes more and more efficient.
It’s like time deflation. An hour ten years ago is worth less than an hour today. It’s a trend that started a long time ago, and it’s not going to stop soon. There are technology advancements on the near horizon that will free up more time than we previously thought possible.
It’s all about freedom and efficiency
Think back to agriculture. It’s what allowed humankind to set up our first cities. When we got good enough at farming, we had more time available for art, philosophy, maths, and science.
Agriculture was one of the first technologies that gave us more time in our day. It wasn’t that the sun stayed in the sky longer, but we were no longer forced to spend every waking hour hunting or foraging for food. It expanded the time in a day to pursue other tasks and shrunk the time we had to devote to the single task of staying alive.
Since that time, there have been countless innovations that have given us more time in the day. Phones made communication faster, and internal combustion engines cut down our amount of travel time. Amazon, Blue Apron, and Netflix have made it so we almost never have to leave our homes, and the internet means we can telecommute to work.
The gross domestic product of the United States has been steadily increasing since it was first measured in the 1940s. Productivity, as measured by the amount of GDP created per hour of work, has also been slowly increasing throughout the last several decades.
Pedro Ribeiro Simões/Flickr
An elderly man reads a newspaper.
It’s not all sunshine and roses
There are people who will say that technology goes too far. Technology is amazing but there are limits to its wonders.
Tesla’s autonomous driving feature recently sent a driver to his death, and regulatory bodies have yet to catch up with the fervent innovation in self-driving cars.
On a lighter note, social media is now a huge part of our lives, and it’s not always the most productive use of our time. The average user spends 20-30 minutes in Snapchat alone, according to the company. Multiply that by the number of users and you get around 75 million hours a day spent sending your friends photos that ultimately disappear.
Supercell, the mobile gaming company, has found a way to monetise our boredom with its popular titles like Clash of Clans and Boom Beach. The company made
892 million in 2013, mostly by selling in-game perks and power-ups. The company built a $3 billion empire just three years after launching, a feat made possible by cell phones and long lines at Chipotle.
Certainly, not all tech innovation is focused on increasing our productivity.
What the future holds
Virtual reality, drones, and artificial intelligence are all hot topics in tech right now, and all have the potential to make us more productive.
If driverless car technology is perfected, by Tesla or any of the other car and tech companies working on it, then the average commuter is no longer stuck to the steering wheel. They can whip out a laptop, connect to their peers online and start working the minute they start their commute. It’s just like adding hours to your day, without needing another cup of coffee to make it through the extra time.
In the far future, technology like Elon Musk’s proposed “Neural Lace” may make humans one with the computers they use, upping efficiency even more. (Imagine thinking a message to your friends and coworkers instead of typing it.) Musk also talks about living on other planets and incredibly fast transportation between cities.
But we don’t have to wait for technology to change everything because it already has. Thanks to tech, we have more time than ever before and there is no end to our productivity in sight. Time deflation is here to stay.
So go ahead and watch a cat video to celebrate all that extra time you have.
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