Mar 162011


Technology in 2011

When I started this blog, I added a technology category because I like computers and thought I’d be showing people how to do web design and photoshop editing and such. I haven’t written up a technology project yet, but the stuff is always buzzing around my brain and I get excited when the topic comes up.
Like today.
I opened the coffee shop in the dark this morning, and soon heard a tap tap tapping at the window. It was my first customer–one of the gas station attendants. The kid is a veritable technogeek, and before he even ordered his poppyseed muffin, he popped the question: “How do you feel about computer games: are they good or bad?”
I hemmed and hawed.
He informed me that there are amazing medical cures in the making based on computer folding. And it was game designers that started all that.
I knew about computer folding–or, rather–protein folding. Diseases are caused by misfolded proteins, and we can learn about the causes by simulating protein folding in massive numbers. You can even sign up to have universities use your computer at night while you’re asleep to help “fold proteins” in search of cures. Cool stuff. One point for computer games!

So that was the start of the day. I decided that the question for the rest of the day would be “what is the most amazing technological advance you can think of?”

Here are some answers from drive-up customers:

Computer generated dental crowns.
Did you know dentists can now take a picture of a tooth, load it into a computer, and have a crown made by the computer? The technology isn’t as good as a crown made by a human yet, but it’ll get there.

It’s mind boggling that we can see and keep track of every spot on the planet.

Solid state transistors.
I’m going to have to look that one up because I don’t know much about them and need to find out why they’re so amazing. Here’s a history of transistors if you need to look it up too.

The iPhone4.
I haven’t seen one yet, so I asked why.
“It’s just so cool.”

“As in, for paraplegics?” I wanted to know.
“Well, yes, but mainly exoskeletons for military use.”
“Ah. Iron Man. An armor that works for you.”

Invisibility cloaks.
“Say what?”
“The Japanese have come up with a fabric that refracts light and acts as an invisibility cloak.”
I had my doubts about that one, so I looked it up. Here’s a video:

The 3D printer.
And now they’re going to use 3D printers to print 3D printers! We won’t need manufacturing plants anymore. Everything will be cheap. We’ll be able to sit around doing nothing and enjoying all our cheap stuff.

The fact that we’re only at the beginning of what we’ll be able to do with technology. Basically, if we can think it, we’ll be able to do it. Really.

Which brings me to perhaps a more important question: What do you think all this technology is going to do to mankind? Will we become lazier? Complain about more things? Will we use our gaping spare time for ourselves or to help others for free? Will we forget what it’s like to have a face to face conversation?

What is the most amazing technological advance you can think of, and what do you think it will do to mankind?