Conversations while I am on an airplane typically go one of three ways:
- Exchange some pleasantries, discuss a mundane topic, and then politely go back to my own business
- Talk for two minutes and then realize I’d rather gouge my eyeballs out with the passenger safety card than continue talking
- Engage in a few deeper discussions that often reveal some interesting insights or perspectives on the world and make me a more enlightened person
To be certain, options 1 and 2 represent approximately 90% of the conversations I have on planes – if I ever do begin conversing in the first place. But sometimes, option 3 appears and it is like a wave of positive emotion that washes over the entire flying experience.
While on a lengthy overseas flight this past weekend, I was seated next to a 69-year old gentleman who was returning from a vacation with his bride of 50 years. They were split up between rows (hey, take the first class upgrades however you can get them!) so it was just the two of us in our row. Shortly after we sat down, it was obvious that she was his caretaker, and I’d have to pitch in some of those duties (moving things around, getting out the tray table, etc.). I really didn’t mind at all.
Somewhere in the middle of the flight, he wanted to relax a bit and watch a movie, so asked for some help. He was navigating the touch screen menus with relative ease, despite the language barrier getting in the way. He then paused, looked right at me, and said “this is just the beginning.” Interested to know more, I asked what he meant by that. He said, “technology has evolved so much during my lifetime, but this is really just the beginning. There is so much future innovation that is yet to happen.”
In January I had the privilege of visiting the Consumer Electronics Show, “CES” to those inner circle-types, and couldn’t have been more amazed by what I saw. The show displayed everything from connected homes and appliances to wearable health technology to cars that apply intelligence to your day to all sorts of flying objects like the EHANG184 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle pictured to the right. If you’re not familiar with the show, it is 2.5 million square feet (232,000 square meters) of hands-on immersion experiences, keynote speeches, and discussion panels across many subsections of technology. Visitors get an exclusive look at what is on the market today, and a glimpse of what is coming a few years down the road. There is more on display than can possibly be viewed during the show hours.
The gentleman next to me on the flight was absolutely correct.
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