When Everything Becomes One

Computers, the building blocks of reality

I remember when I was a child. We had quite a few devices. Here are just some of the ones I recall:

  • A television.
  • A radio.
  • A clock (and wristwatches).
  • A cassette tape player.
  • A VCR (and later, a DVD player).
  • A cord adapter.
  • A sound system.
  • A PC.
  • A draw full of video tapes (and later, DVDs).
  • A draw full of CDs and cassette tapes.
  • My mother also had some cooking/recipe books.
  • I had some books on how to make paper planes and other things.
  • I had an encyclopedia.
  • I had a dictionary for school.
  • Much to my dismay as a child, we never had any gaming consoles, though the majority of my friends had PlayStations or Xboxs.
  • To my delight, however, I had a little Nintendo Game Boy.
  • We had a collection of road maps.
  • My mother had a contact book for people’s details.
  • We had a landline phone.
  • My parents each had a mobile phone.
  • We had a big camera.
  • We had one of those weird antena things that would sit on top of the television.
  • And we of course had many other random gadgets…

A little more than 10–15 years later, I have none of that. Zero.

The Smartphone

All I have now is a laptop, “phablet” (large smartphone), and headphones.

With that being said, I know some people that don’t even have a laptop. They just use their smartphone. They also just use the headphones that came with their phone.

That list of more than 20 products my family had while I was a kid (collectively worth tens of thousands) has been replaced by a single product… The smartphone.

A household full of countless gadgets — dozens upon dozens of products — has been replaced by a single item.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I watched television. It certainly wasn’t this year. Or last year. I don’t listen to the radio. I no longer have physical books — let alone cookbooks or roadmaps. I never use landline phones. I can’t recall the last time I used a desktop computer or stand-alone camera. I don’t have a DVD player. I don’t have a collection of my favorite CDs.

They’ve all morphed into a single smartphone.

The Trend

Overall, the trend is clear:

Everything is turning into one thing.

If I were a mad scientist scribbling this trend on a blackboard, the formula would look something like this:

∞ → 1

Now, sure… all of that stuff — from news to music — is all communications related. So of course smartphones are going to replace them. But surely physical products are safe, right? We can’t replace chairs, houses, and cars with smartphones, right?

Well, that would be right. We can’t build cars, airplanes, or beds out of smartphones. We can, however, build things out of computers…

Cars, beds, planes, and smartphones.

Computers Engulf The Cosmos

Computers are getting smaller. And smaller. And smaller.

They used to fill entire buildings. Then they filled entire desks. Now they fit our pocket. They’re also many orders of magnitude more powerful and affordable.

Extrapolating this trend, it’s pretty clear that we are not far from the day when computers are smaller than blood cells. These little computers will be able to communicate with each other, move around, and arrange themselves to form certain things.

If there’s enough of them, they’ll be like a fog. A fog of little computers.

Except, this fog will be able to form different objects. This fog will have utility. A utility fog.

Cars. Planes. Beds. Houses. Limbs. This fog could repeatedly rearrange itself and morph into different objects.

And so the trend continues.

∞ → 1

Everything turns into one.

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