WASHINGTON—According to a nationwide poll published Thursday by the Pew Research Center, an overwhelming majority of Americans said they were surprised that technology had not yet advanced to the point at which everyone lives inside of computers.
Asked what they had envisioned daily life would be like by 2013, most poll respondents said they thought they would no longer live in the physical world but “inside a bunch of circuit boards and screens,” where human beings would exist only as glowing clusters of information zooming around from computer to computer.
“I really thought we’d basically just be electricity at this point,” said Nashville, TN resident Harry Clement, 45, explaining that he, like most Americans, had assumed that instead of living in houses people would make their homes in “desktop PCs or maybe a bunch of servers on the internet.” “I figured we’d be able to, you know, flip a switch and suddenly appear in a computer surrounded by a bunch of flashing numbers.”
He added, “If you had asked me 20 years ago where we’d be by now, I’d definitely have told you that we’d be spending our days sitting around on electronic cubes and flying across motherboards and doing stuff like that.”
According to the poll, more than two-thirds of Americans said they had presumed that by 2001 human beings would have bodies made entirely of pixels, by 2006 they would stop eating food and acquire sustenance by consuming pure data, and by 2011 they would no longer travel by car or on foot, instead hitching light-speed rides by fiber-optic cable whenever they wanted to go somewhere.
In addition, 98 percent of respondents said they had pictured a future in which they would only be able to die if someone accidentally deleted them.
“It’s 2013, for God’s sake, why aren’t we floating on megabytes across an infinite blue or green grid of some kind?” said Jennifer Cosgray, a 29-year-old medical assistant from Cleveland. “I thought by now I’d be sleeping inside a special battery pack, and then in the morning someone would press a little button and my face would show up on a monitor.”
“I don’t know who would press the button, though, since everyone would be inside their computers,” she continued. “Probably they’d have a robot to do that.”
While saying they remain confident the day will come when they can inhabit “a world composed of ones, zeros, and backslashes,” many Americans expressed frustration over the fact that, for the time being, they must continue to assume a bodily form and expend actual, physical effort several times a day.
“Honestly, they’ve had plenty of time to figure this stuff out,” said Doreen Turico, a Chicago-based marketing manager. “What’s the point of all this technology if we’re not actually living inside of computers yet? That seemed like where we were headed, but I’m still stuck in a stupid house with a stupid lawn made of grass and dirt.”
“I’m really tired of all this shit, you know?” she added. “If the endgame of all this isn’t to live inside a computer one day then, I have to say, life just seems sort of meaningless.”
At press time, a visibly distressed Turico was reportedly jamming a finger into a USB port, smashing a keyboard, and screaming that she just wanted to “upload the hell out of here.”