Robin Hanson is an economist who has theorized about what will happen to society if economic growth takes off because we start creating avatars that are capable of controlling and using capital the same way our physical selves do.
I wonder if last Sunday’s Doonesbury strip is hinting at this:
The response to this on the web is that it’s about the invisibility of the middle-aged in contemporary culture.
I see something deeper, with a totally different take on this one.
What if they're not invisible? Instead, what if they're in another part of the store?
Then who's doing the check out and the small talk? How about the avatars of Mike and Bernie.
How far off are we from being able to put our smartphone down on the checkout counter and have it make small talk, make minor decisions on our behalf, and pay for our groceries (and yell like crazy if someone else picks it up)? All of those things are actually possible right now.
Mike and Bernie could have been just out of sight chatting, or thumbing threw magazines, while a smartphone did the work for them. Then they just pick up the bag and go.
The clincher for me is ... who'd be the first in the strip to have this kind of tech? Bernie!