Technology is taking over the world. There seems to be a new product or invention everywhere you look and it is impossible to keep up with all of them. There is now even an idea that technology will soon surpass the capabilities of human intelligence. Ken Jennings, a Jeopardy contestant that won fifty-four days in a row, proved to be no match when he competed against Watson, a computer created by IBM, demonstrating the extremely complex abilities of a computers brain. Technology and computer processing has revolutionized the world and even with the progress that has already been made, we haven’t seen anything yet.
Moore’s Law, named after Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel, encompasses the idea that every eighteen months, microprocessor performance per dollar doubles. Fundamentally, the brains of a computer will be twice as fast and smart every year and half, but will still cost the same as the current price.
Not only are they faster and cheaper, they are smaller and smarter. To put this change into perspective, just fifty years ago, the most advanced technologies were computers the size of a large room only affordable to governments. Today, micro processing devices are available to anyone in the form of phones, cameras, personal computers, and pacemakers. With this increase in technological capability and affordability, what else is possible? Will this progress ever reach an end?
The technological evolution has led to completely new industries and the development of current industries that would have previously been unimaginable. For example, Apple, originally just a computer company, developed the iPod: the first handheld music player of its kind. The creation of the iPod has since led to other technological innovations such as the iPhone and iTunes. Since its inception, iTunes has worked its way to being the top music retailer despite never selling physical CD. And Apple is not the only company benefitting from this advancement though. Amazon.com is the largest book retailer in North America after releasing its Kindle, a personal reader with the ability to purchase books online directly to the device. The limits of online consumption are endless, as companies such as FreshDirect will even deliver your groceries right to your doorstep.
Technology isn’t only benefitting consumer products but has also been implemented to increase the efficiency of airline and finance companies. Supercomputers, such as IBM’s Deep Blue, are among the fastest computers in the world. United Airlines completely restructured its scheduling system based on Deep Blue’s ability to analyze and determine the most efficient flight path combinations.
But is “Moore” always better? As technological innovation continues, old devices and processors become outdated resulting in a significant amount of electronic waste, referred to as ‘e-waste’. Personal computers only really have the expected lifetime of about five years while for cell phones, its often only about two years. The waste produced by the outdated technologies often ends up in China, South Asia, or certain parts of Africa. The e-waste is usually burned resulting in clouds of smoke very toxic to the inhabitants of these areas. With all of the harmful consequences of e-waste, technology and electronic companies should be responsible for researching and developing new ways to recycle and dispose of the outdated technologies.
Although technology provides an endless list of positives, there remains to be things to criticize. Aside from the e-waste, many people are losing jobs and being replaced by computers and other automated systems. Despite criticisms about the impact of technology on the environment and workforce, it is clear that technology is here to stay and the end of technological progress is nowhere in sight.
If you want to see IBM’s Watson on Jeopardy, watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smSvr4dfmPk