WHEN I was a kid I had a Hollywood-driven fascination with the 21st Century.
I imagined a much different world than that I lived in then. I foresaw a "Jetsons" style world in which we all drove aerial vehicles and enjoyed the service of robots.
For the first decade and a half of the 21st Century it seemed we'd all overestimated the scope of change, not that much seemed different. Sure, our televisions grew more sophisticated and most of us grew addicted to our mobile devices and the social media they supported.
But as we approach the end of the second decade, the 21st Century is looking more and more like the one I'd imagined as a child.
Driverless cars are being trialled, as are autonomous trucks. UAVs are appearing in the air above us and every second house appears to be generating its own electricity.
The year 2017 was most marked by the new buzzword "disruption". Rapidly evolving technologies are changing the way we live, work and play. Inventions are disrupting just about every norm in our lives; the way we shop, exercise, travel, and most importantly, how we communicate.
I emphasise the last point because I believe it's the one that matters most and the one affecting us most. Remember the so-called "Arab Spring" in which dictator after dictator in North Africa and the Middle East fell to popular revolts? It arguably could not have happened if it weren't for the proliferation of mobile devices and social media platforms.
The same phenomenon is now impacting on our democracies. Along with the associated and crazy news cycle, technology is disrupting our political settlement; the system which has underpinned western democracies for more than one hundred years.
Our success in 2018 will largely be determined by the maturity of our response to these changes. Our politicians must both embrace and manage change. It begins with listening harder and opening the mind to a broader range of views and ideas.
Letting your local member know what you think has never been easier. Please do so, I'm listening.
Happy New Year.
First published in the Hunter Valley News on January 10 2018.