As anyone who has a long term goal or project will tell you it is important to look back and see just how far you have come from where you started. Whether it be building a birdhouse or trying to find the Higgs-Boson, remembering how you started, seeing progress and appreciating how much you have accomplished feels good and in some cases, it inspires you finish whatever it is you are doing.
I take great pleasure in looking at the progression of life and man-made structures. I marvel at how a human goes from being an infant, small enough to be held in one hand, potentially grow into a 6-foot-7-inch and 275-pound Hulk of a person. I find it fascinating how the steel beams on Toll Drive will eventually become our newest residence hall (probably a year or two later than we were promised, but that is beside the point).
One of my favorite things to put in perspective is technology. Throughout my lifetime, I have gone from running Windows 98 on big, bulky beige monitors to using Windows 8 on a touchscreen laptop. And if you look at technology as whole, we have gone from clunky, monochrome machines that could run one program at a time to sleek, futuristic computers that are one-third the size and exponentially faster. I remember playing “Snake” on an old Nokia 9000 when I was little; it had the pull-out antenna and everything. Now I cannot decide which app to use first on my (thankfully antenna free) smartphone.
It is also impressive to watch the youth of today use this technology. Their mastery is one that is not taught, but almost innately develops. I remember sitting in class in high school, groaning with impatience while my teachers tried to figure how to use the SmartBoard. They would fumble with controls and after wasting 10 minutes, we would end up with a projection that was too small to read and at the same time out of focus. Do not even get me started on when they tried to calibrate those things.
We are doing more with technology than we ever have before. A couple of weeks ago, I saw on the news that Samsung was partnering with IKEA to put wireless chargers in couches. As someone who used Velcro, binder clips and tape to try and find that perfect charger placement, this is an absolute blessing. SanDisk, best known for its USB flash drives and MicroSD cards, just developed a 200 GB MicroSD card. That is computer-level amount of storage, implanted in your phone. Even the most advanced iPods only had 160GB; this new card allows even the most dedicated audiophile to have a music collection and still retain a healthy 40GB plus the phone’s built-in storage for media and apps.
Out of all the developments that inspired me to write his story, I think the most striking is Apple’s announcement. According to TechCrunch, and in conjunction with Oxford and Stanford, Apple’s new app
ResearchKit turns any willing participant with an iPhone into a volunteer for research that could help tackle some pretty big diseases. This combats issues like sample size and human laziness, which plague current medical research. The app is open-source too, meaning more app developers can get their hands on it.
Only tests/surveys regarding Parkinson’s, diabetes, asthma, breast cancer and cardiovascular disease exist right now, but I can not wait to see how the app expands. Or better yet, when they will have they first major research breakthrough.
There are some people that might view all of this and have to fight the urge to make a reference to 1984. Some may say that technology is starting to make up too much of our lives, invading our personal space and impede our humanity.I agree, but only to a certain degree.
We need to be careful not to let technology take away our humanity (the way we do with social media), but I believe that these innovations, and most innovations are for the better.
Our world is changing and we need to keep up with it. More than ever our lives and information is digitized on a mountainous scale. The easier information flow gets, the higher we can climb up that mountain. Eventually, we may even reach the summit of seamless and perfect integration.