Technology in a Changing World


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The technological revolution of the 1990s, which traces its origins to research and development that took place in the 1960s and earlier here in the United States has changed our world. But, the world, itself, is changing too. As a small business owner, I struggle with priorities to keep my business alive. Yet, like many other working class people, I am aware of the fact that technology has and will change our world for the better and worse in my lifetime and beyond. The technological revolution that started in the 1990’s led to, quite literally, billions of individuals gaining access to a computer and the Internet. Even in struggling nations, where the rule of law has often been questioned, there are Internet cafes. In totalitarian societies, one of the tactics used to silent a popular uprising has now become censorship, or complete blocking, of the free flow of information and communication associated with the Internet. Some of the most prominently annoying spam that attempts to reach my website is directly from Vietnam, and designed to sell a product – something unthinkable a generation ago. The mass-murderer and reviled Osama Bin Laden even used a courier, with USB thumb drives, to communicate to his followers while in hiding in Pakistan. Has the Internet become the carrier pigeon of our age, or something much more important?

What does technology do to benefit mankind? We often think of technology, in terms of IT, computer systems, networks, the OSI model, and graphics as hitting three distinctive areas: business, home, and academia. We are forgetting some crucial areas, when we limit our understanding of how technology works and what impact it has made on our world. Technology has innovated the way hospitals are capable of treating patients. From life threatening illnesses to simple patient care, Windows-embedded computers can be found permeating the floors of nearly every hospital here in New York. A family member recently survived a quadruple bypass, and there is no question that the technology involved has saved his life. Not only that, but these systems, regardless of operating system, help in managed care of patients undergoing rehabilitation.

Computer systems permeate our entire society, whether it is in banking, shopping, defense, investing, the arts, architecture, construction, medicine, or any other number of areas. The innovation associated with the semiconductor itself has changed our world, perhaps permanently, whereas it is possible to clone our food, and perhaps, with the proper safety precautions in place, cure world hunger and child starvation.

Bill Gates, the owner and chairman of Microsoft Corporation, has used his enormous wealth to nearly wipe out malaria in the third world. While other entrepreneurs may not be as generous with their use of funds, these acts of philanthropy represent the enormous benefit that the rich can endow on our people, through sheer generosity and concern for our survival as human beings, once their technological innovations reach mainstream acceptance.

While the country I live in, the United States, has exhausted its energy supplies of fossil fuels, and moved away from a manufacturing and industrial economy, I have noticed that intellectual property and the copyright of technology itself has become a major export, and something that the USA has often been noted for. Whether it was Edison or Tesla, the world has been forever changed by the innovations that have taken place in our society. These triumphs have not been limited to my country, as the knowledge has spread around the globe, to all corners of the earth, in many cases.

Hailing technology as the great triumph of our time is easy, but the advancement of technology has come with a great price. Throughout history, a pattern has emerged that is easy to identify. Over the many centuries, any time a technological advancement that changes the world is developed, we expect it not to be weaponized. But, as we have often learned, when technology moves too far ahead, it is weaponized, and with today’s technology, that is a frightening notion. Attacks by cyber criminals have resulted in severe loss of data and finances by many individuals and businesses, both large and small. If we discover or invent something that leads to technological innovation, it should be our goal, as members of a civilized world, not to weaponize such technology, if the opportunity exists.

When I think of the future of where technology is headed, I am excited. This is especially true in the area of medicine. We owe it to each other to use the benefits of highly advanced computer systems to protect our own interests, and that of all human beings. While my specializations in technology, admittedly, only go so far, it is my hope that the technology that we continue to develop as a global community is one that is healthy and preventative; not dangerous and reactionary. The difference between the two will have a strong impact on our world.

In conclusion, I strongly believe that these thoughts, ideas, and even concerns should be raised any time we think of technology. As many people use GPS, acquire smart phones, use their computer systems to keep in touch with friends and family, and even create their own business networks, the overall goal of technological development is sometimes lost. Science compels us to develop technological solutions to resolve difficult problems to help us better understand the world around us, and to solve what may seem unsolvable. It is therefore, with great pride that I continue to work in this field, even if that means providing the tools and skills available to me to help others in the way I have learned how. This does not preclude me from being mindful of what effect technology continues to have on our changing world, and the people in it that make it such a diverse and wonderful place.

Access to the Internet should be universal, governed by a moral sense of duty to one another, by one another, and computers should be affordable to even the least endowed, financially, in our world. Outside of shopping and pornography, there is an entire world to be discovered online, including one of research and self-education. The opportunities presented by computer systems being made available to everyone compel us to re-evaluate our place in the world and look forward to a brighter future by learning from our past.
And it all started with Guttenberg. If anything, the internet is a direct extension of what Guttenberg started. He made it possible for the masses to receive written information. First through paper and ink. Then through radio and tv. Now through internet servers.

I can't wait to see what the next great leap of info tech will be.