However, this march towards a near-future dystopia of increasingly destructive digital distraction is by no means inevitable. Clear signs are emerging that suggest that the human race will find exciting, even astonishing new ways to re-invent its tortured relationship with short-term time over the next decade.
'A band of thoughtful individuals and organisations are showing us how to get technology to deliver on its original promise – to give us more time to be creative, innovative and intuitive about the challenges ahead,’ says Tom Savigar, chief growth officer at The Future Laboratory.
Speeding up to slow down
Think of it as a fightback in 10-year stages, with humanity finding new and increasingly advanced ways to use technology to give back time rather than steal it away.
The first stage will gain momentum between now and 2025, and will involve speeding up elements of our lives – from the way our brains work to how we travel – to enable us to win back moments of rest, recuperation and contemplative downtime.
Getting to places faster will be very much in vogue as tomorrow’s globe-trotting wealthy and business classes embrace a version of hypersonic air travel that will make the late and lamented Concorde a distant memory.
Airline start-up Boom, which carries the slogan ‘Time Saved is Life Gained’, aims to have a fleet of supersonic aircraft operating between Europe and the US by 2030.
'Imagine departing from New York at 6:00am and landing at Heathrow by 2:30pm London time,’ says founder Blake Scholl. ‘You will be able to make afternoon meetings, you can stay until 9:30pm, have a full, productive day, land back in New York at 8:00pm local time and tuck your kids into bed.'
Beyond supersonic, air travel is set to go hypersonic even sooner. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is the most famous innovator in this space. After several setbacks, the company has completed a successful test flight.
Virgin Galactic is selling tickets for ‘glide flights’ (priced at £190,000 ($250,000, €230,000)), which are aimed at people who want to experience weightlessness and get incredible views of Earth from Space. Its ultimate goal, however, is to offer destination-to-destination, sub-orbital commercial flights, which will enable passengers to fly from London to Sydney in two hours.