The future is both electronic and digital - as anyone who owns a fax machine can attest.
And so we must all learn to love a world in which there are two new excuses for not going cycling on that vaguely cold and slightly drizzly day - either one of your drivetrain batteries is flat, or your derailleur is far too busy downloading a firmware update. Sorted!
And of course, wherever there are digital electronics there are also data, and wherever there are data, evil lurks. Here's a piece I posted on Facebook, way back in 2018...
'As usual this post starts with a discussion in a bar. The subject this time was Shimano's Dura-Ace 9100-P power crank, Di2 Synchro Shift and the inevitability that automated gear changing was coming our way.
As the evening wore on, and our grasp on reality loosened somewhat, it became apparent that Shimano would soon bring automated shifting to the masses. Inevitably this would involve calculating when to shift using an Artificial Intelligence algorithm derived from Big Data secretly uploaded from the millions of Di2 units that would then be in circulation. And you think those are just firmware updates...
As the beer continued to sink, it, strangely, became clearer and clearer that it would be discovered that shifting style reflected personality type - with anxious, liberal, politically-correct, pinkos shifting down ridiculously early - well before even the smallest hillock. More macho, red-necked, NRA supporting, white-supremacists would shift ludicrously late - halfway up titanic climbs when their revs had dropped even below the level of their IQs.
Mark Zuckerberg could then buy Shimano for one week's wages (or whatever he spends on that hair cut - whichever is the higher) and our data would mysteriously end up in the hands of those nice people at Cambridge Analytica. Political ads, targeted using the timing of gear changes, would drive the world, both Dotard Donald and Tedious Theresa would be elected for second terms and Pyongyang would win the ballot for the 2032 Olympic Games etc. etc..
Perhaps our grasp remained surprisingly firm and it was reality that was slipping... but enough of this nonsense.'
Devising the derailleur of the future clearly takes time. This page features a motley selection of electronic derailleurs, dating from the early 1990s onwards. Even Shimano have been at it for a full 20 years.
And if you want the perfect test ride for one of these futuristic marvels, head to Brixton and rock down to Electric Avenue - and then we'll take it higher...
FSA K-Force WE 2016