Posted on 


 in ,

On Technology Disappearing as it Matures

There's an idea that has been around for a while about how as significant new technologies mature the more they disappear – as in they become less obvious or we simply stop noticing that they are there. I remember the concept being talked about in the planning blogging community back in the day. Back in 2015 Eric Schmidt also talked about how the internet will disappear. And we can comfortably predict that technologies like artificial intelligence will be so embedded within products and services that we will cease talking about how they are 'powered by AI' pretty soon.

Anyways, a while back I came across what I think is the original source for the idea and it comes from Mark Weiser’s essay “The Computer for the Twenty-First Century” (Scientific American, 1991, pp. 66–75, sadly can't find a link online). The actual quote from this is:

“The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.”

Central to this concept of disappearing technology is that it can be physical (minitiarrisation, integration) and/or mental (tech moves to the background and we don't think of it as a separate or notable thing). There remains much truth is this prescient thought.

Leave a Reply