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How Tech Has Changed Our Lives In The Last 10 Years


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Ari Shapiro. And...


MICHELE NORRIS: I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK: I'm Melissa Block, and it's time now for All Tech Considered.


SHAPIRO: That is how the first All Tech Considered of the decade began on January 4, 2010. Sad to say, Michele and Melissa are not here in the studio with me this Christmas Day. A lot has changed since then - hosts of this program and technology.

In a minute, we'll look ahead to the next decade in tech. Before we do, let's revisit this one. We asked three experts to pick what they see as the most significant ways tech has changed our lives since 2009. The most obvious advancement was the smartphone. They were around in 2009, but now 81% of Americans own one. And technology reporter Omar Gallaga says they've almost become an appendage.

OMAR GALLAGA: I was in a restaurant over the weekend, and, you know, just across from me, a woman's phone was going off every five seconds. You know, I heard a chime or an alert - you know, different alerts out of her phone every - and I'm, like, how is she functioning as a human in this world? You know, she didn't even notice that those alerts were going off. I mean, that's how much a part of her life they must be, so...

SHAPIRO: And it's not just the phones. Gallaga's daughters, who are 10 and 12, have tablets. He says kids these days just go through life differently from a decade ago.

GALLAGA: When you see kids at the doctor's office looking at magazines, and they're trying to, like, you know, scroll the page (laughter), the print page - like, yeah. Yep, that's an iPad kid right there.

SHAPIRO: Next, we turn to Erin Hatton. She is an associate professor of sociology at the University at Buffalo. And for her, the most significant change of the decade is something that would not have been possible without the smartphone - it's the gig economy, enabled by apps like Uber, TaskRabbit and Airbnb. Hatton says they've redefined what it is to be a worker.

ERIN HATTON: I think that this work has started new conversations between workers and across sectors in rethinking what it means to be a worker and potentially rethinking what kinds of benefits and protections we attach to work.

SHAPIRO: Beyond our daily lives or our work, tech in the last decade has also shaped what we believe to be true. Sometimes we know we're being faked, like in Martin Scorsese's movie "The Irishman." Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, who are both in their 70s, look much younger thanks to technology. In some scenes, they're in their 40s.


JOE PESCI: (As Russell Bufalino) What's the problem, kid?

ROBERT DE NIRO: (As Frank Sheeran) I don't know. It sounds funny - stops and starts and loses power.

PESCI: (As Russell Bufalino) I can give you a hand.

SHAPIRO: It's believable. Of course, there is a darker side of this technology, too. Michael Fink is a professor of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, and he says it's easier than ever before to manipulate videos and make it seem like something happened when it never did.

MICHAEL FINK: The software has become so powerful that things can be altered, changed, modified so quickly that people would think, oh, my god. That has to be real. It just happened. And that's not true. The reality is fungible. It can be used by dark forces - let's put it that way - people with absolutely nothing but malevolence at the core of their being. And it's scary. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.