4 Aug 2015
It was the height of the Industrial Revolution that prompted the steam engine, and allowed the potential applications to follow. Traditional mechanics have been the back bone of our modern innovations, and reserves the right to due honor. And the invention of the combustion engine lays claim to unquestionably clever innovative inquiry. But after a century of direct exploration, only so much can be done to refine the manufacturing of these mechanisms, aside from efficiency.
Medicine is older than auto mechanics, and credits many innovations to necessity, such as the Bubonic plague of Europe, where a remedy was only means of survival. Through the curious discovery by Da Vinci and others, our understanding of human anatomy has increased tremendously. Of course, where there is an anatomical structure, there must be a physiological function of that structure. Med students have learned this science of structure and function for centuries, and becoming increasingly better at solving delicate situations with the help of chemical combinations, leading to a demand in pharmaceuticals on the market. But there is only some much to learn here at a fundamental level, as the human body doesn’t change.
It wasn’t until the late 70’s and early 80’s that personal computers came into view. Prior to this point, computers were large and impractical. The military had needed an uninturptable medium of communication, and thus the internet was born (though at this point it was not known to the public). It was the risk-taking visions of young entrepreneurs that propelled us into the age of microchips. After years, PC’s started appearing everywhere, and had a large influence on other devices. Software began to be developed to control the PC hardware, and then, microchips.
Fast-forwarding to today, we can see what is still accelerating innovation in the market. According to Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, the processing power will about double every two years. This was viewed with skepticism, as the logic of perpetual doubling seems ostentatious. But remarkably, the age of microchips has proven worthy of the attention. We have as a result of the assimilation of microchips into our manufacturing moved into a “digital age”. We have now a “blur” between a lot of our devices today, with wi-fi, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity. Many modern cars have computer components controlling the mechanical parts, with software that controls the microchip hardware. Additionally, cellular phones are entirely birthed from a broadcasted cellular frequency. But we must not forget data. 4G LTE now is common place in most cities, and is actually nearly equal to a traditional broadband internet connection. Mobile hotspots can be established from nothing but a smart phone, and can give as much as a quarter of a business-class broadband connection.
But the microchips aren’t finished. The potential found with microchips is found in that they are condensible, and I am repeatedly impressed by smaller and smaller flash ram, such as the Micro SD card (no bigger then my fingernail). But the storage capacity of this uncharacteristically small items has swelled to as much as SanDisk’s recently announced 128GB in their Micro SDXC Ultra storage. These little chips allow any smart device with Micro SD support (which many have) to have incredible storage upgrade, as well as hot swappable ability for even more storage, all while on-the-go. But aside from the hardware side, cloud computing has become common place, with several services to choose from. The reality is, there is hardware behind all this “open storage space”. Companies add server storage drives to their server, and then offer it out to those who will pay for it.
PC’s, the Internet, and broadcasted data frequencies have allowed other industries to continue to advance and innovate. Car manufactures are able create cars that switch between electricity and unleaded gas. Hospitals, like most modern industries, rely on a network of records that are now easily accessible through the internet. But now, surgery itself has the potential of being done remotely, by a physician who controls a highly proficient robot, such as the Di Vinci surgical system.
It is a fast-moving atmosphere, and though it may seem that our technology may be moving faster than we are, it should be no small mention that at every point of advance, we are behind that advancement. We are in control of what we do with it. Our conscience should be guiding just how much we hand over to pre-programmed software control.