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Big Brothers wristwatch is watching your fridgeWhat Just HappenedJames GleickAbacus 1299 pp301Once we wrote sonnets to our mistresss eyebrow Soon her eyebrow could contain more than she wants to know about us our overdraft our taste in junk food where we were last night the title of that embarrassing video we rented A flick of her eyebrow will be able to buy or sell a share switch on the oven change the TV channel summon up a favourite tune or indeed the raunchy bit from that video While her ear of course conducts a pre-emptive phone call with someone else via the speaker in her broochHuman implanting of multipurpose computer chips is the logical and to some desirable consequence of all the micro-science going on in sundry north-west American laboratories For now computer scientists unsure about the bionic or cyborg future are content to stop short at cyber-jewellery the earring for instance that updates you on the Nasdaq or gives you directions as you drive or checks where your spouse is and should you so wish declines to accept his or her call offering to take a message while voicemail declares you unavailableOne such scientist is designing himself a ring that shines red to tell him his daughter has got home safely or green when he has an urgent message Or he was in April of last year when the last chapter of this book was written Maybe he has managed it by now and is working on a wristwatch that doubles as a portable computer filtering your calls and telling your family where you are James Gleick alas doesnt tell us The world he is chronicling has moved on before he has reached his word processor which is presumably why hes content to serve up recycled articles dating back 10 years to that bygone age when people felt the strange urge - remember - to answer a ringing telephoneThe author of three previous
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