A Look Into The Future

A friend recently sent me this picture.

The caption below the picture reads “Scientists from the RAND Corporation have created this model to illustrate how a “home computer” would look like in the year 2004. However the needed technology will not be economically feasible for the average home. Also the scientists readily admit that the computer will require not yet invented technology to actually work, but 50 years from now scientific progress is expected to solve these problems. With teletype interface and the Fortran language, the computer will be easy to use.”

The commentary is significant in its meaning.
Despite the fact that the scientists admitted in the narrative that some of the technology wasn’t cost effective to develop for a “home computer” and other componets were not yet available, they were willing to vision and look to the future of what might be. They were willing to take a chance, to risk ridicule to publicly share their vision of the future.

Some people would call it “day dreaming.” I remember more than one time being scolded by a teacher or relative about my “farfetched” ideas that dealt with future electronic gadgets I often wrote about in writing assignments in elementary school.
A more applicable description, in my opinion, in looking to the future would be a phrase I like to use….”Forward thinking.”

I grew up with pictures like the one above, reading in elementary school about what would be possible in the early 21st Century. Some of it has surpassed anything predicted, others have not….yet.

When it comes to vision…forward thinking, if you will…one has to look at what could be and not be constrained by what cannot be today. The concept is no less important in policing.

About a week ago, I referenced a book I purchased entitled Scene of The Crime: photographs from the LAPD achieve by Ellroy & Wride (ISBN 0-8109-5002-2). If one looks at the photos and the narratives describing investigations and police techniques of the 1930’s and compares them to new digital technology and new investigative techniques, imagine the reaction of a detective of that era when they learned that the absolute identification principles of fingerprints would one day be usurped by DNA. There would probably be some skepticism.

We can learn a lesson from the photograph above. The vision of a 2004 home computer was portrayed in a 1954 technology perspective. Even though the “model” is not even close to what I’m using right now on my portable computer to compose this entry, the vision has made today’s technology possible because others believed it was possible.

Forward thinking will allow us build the future. As a police administrator, I feel it is as much my responsibility to look forward for 5, 10, or even 20 years when planning for services and operations as it is for next month or next year. Often, there might be some variables in the process but the photo above is a good reminder of why we have to continue to look to the future.

What changes do you see in the next 50 years?

About Gary Smith

Chief Smith has served over 31 years in the criminal justice field. He is currently a consultant assisting public and private organizations better establish community goals and ethical conduct with the members of their organizations. Chief Smith serves as a facilitator, lecturer, professor and other capacities both inside and outside the criminal justice field.
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