Twenty years ago tonight I was one of the few public relations professionals left at a huge information technology company after a giant layoff, so I had to work rather than ring in the new millennium with friends.
A group of us were at the office, professionally dressed and without New Year’s toasts. We were prepared to handle the news media and anything that might come up that highly anticipated New Year’s Eve. Best Buy even had a campaign, “Remember. Turn your computer off before midnight on 12/31/99” to prevent whatever it was that might happen.
Nothing happened except for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Companies were prepared.
There was so much Y2K speculation and drama—from the end of humanity to computer systems crashing—all because of those two little digits in the year.
Here we are. Twenty years have gone by. Humanity and computer systems are still around. I’ve made up for missing the 1999 celebration many times over. That night taught me something valuable: be smart, but keep things in perspective. The experience reminded me to make the most of the special moments like New Year’s Eve.
Today, some are obsessed with the next computer apocalypse, the possibility of machines overtaking humans. I understand the fear, especially when Alexa and Siri and Google Home and who knows what other devices tune into everything we do and say. They learn from us and get smarter. But humans control those machines. They will not overtake humanity unless humans make it happen.
Looking 20 years forward, I predict this night in 2040 will be full of happy celebrations. Our daily lives will be vastly different, but life itself will be the same. We will still work for our livings to pay for food and the roof over our head and all of the things that make life grand. Perhaps we will get to those things in very different ways that will give us lots more time with our loves ones, to have fun, and do things we’ve never experienced before.
Remember what you were doing at 12 p.m. December 31, 2019.
Make every New Year’s the best one yet.