Then And Now

computer1Have you ever gotten frustrated with your computer or handheld device? Have you ever wanted to scream and toss it in the river!? If you have worked with electronics for any length of time, you probably have entertained these sentiments. (This blog was hacked recently and it has not been easy to bring it back to functionality and insure that it is safe to use.)

Software updates that lose your valuable information; garbled voice quality in the middle of a very important call; you forget to save your document; you receive a voice mail message that was left two days previous; vicious attacks by malware, and on and on we go… Technology is great when it works and when we work it properly.

The problems come when it doesn’t work properly and the frustration levels rise. Those of us that remember the “good old days” before computers, would sometimes gladly return to those days of yesteryear: days when it was necessary to answer a phone before you discovered who was calling, days when you could pull your car under your carport and actually tinker with the engine,computer3 days when pay phones were scattered around town and it would cost you some coins to phone home, days of Encyclopedia Britannica in many homes with racks of books, where you would turn pages for hours researching a subject. You might ask why anyone would want to go back to that. But there’s a lot to be said about a slower life that wasn’t inundated with techno info.

But, more importantly, in those days we seemed to have more discretionary time for family and friends. People knew and talked to their neighbors regularly. Gasoline was well under $1.00 per gallon, cameras were only used to take pictures and phones were only used for talking to someone – go figure!

I remember being told that computers would free up time for everyone and change life in such positive and dramatic ways. (Do you remember the futuristic cartoon, The Jetsons, and their carefree life of technological advances?) We witnessed the birth of the space age and especially the beginnings of America’s space program. They tell us now that there are more electronics in our microwaves than were in John Glen’s Mercury capsule.

computer5And who would’ve ever thought in the 1960’s that your “Notebook” one day would not be spiraled and would not contain blank pages with blue lines, or that “RAM Memory” would mean something different than your remembrance of the car wreck you had, or a “Megabyte” would be something different than what a big dog could do to you?

Well, computers have certainly changed our lives. Some changes have been for the good and some, of course, haven’t. Today we seem to have reached information overload and every aspect of our lives is electronically driven. Automobiles, road signs, tools, toys, musical instruments, board games and virtually anything else you can name are controlled by the microchip. Maybe they still make Tinker Toys, I don’t know. But if they do, they are manufactured and packaged electronically.

computer6One sage said, “Businesses in the future will consist of a computer, a man and a dog. The computer will run the business. The dog will be there to keep the man away from the computer and the man will be there to feed the dog.” Automation…gotta love it!

But all the computers in the world would be nothing if intelligent (I use that term loosely) humans had not programmed them to do and report whatever it is they do and report. They are simply a compilation of plastic and metal and glass; a stupid, non-intelligent pile of stuff. But when configured properly and the “0’s” & “I’s” are applied via electricity, they spring to life.

And that life has begotten life exponentially from its beginnings. Here is an excerpt from an article at www.industrytap.com:

Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve”; he noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple, as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. For example, nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every two years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. But on average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months.  According to IBM, the build out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours.

In a recent lecture at Harvard University neuroscientist Jeff Lichtman, who is attempting to map the human brain, has calculated that several billion petabytes of data storage would be needed to index the entire human brain. The Internet is currently estimated to be 5 million terabytes (TB), of which Google has indexed roughly 200 TB or just .004% of its total size. The numbers involved are astounding, especially when considering the size of the human brain and the number of neurons in it.

(By the way, a “Petabyte” is 1,000,000,000,000,000 “Terabytes”, which is 1,000,000,000,000 bytes of information – All of which makes my pea brain spin!)

We have come a long way from the Commodore PET in 1977, with its 4 kb of RAM.

computer7The prophet Daniel was told thousands of years ago, “But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth and knowledge will increase.”(Daniel 12:4)

We have seen a lot in our days. But apparently “we ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” as the famous Al Jolson would say. Increase in knowledge and technology will continue. I believe we should heed old Daniel’s words and know the times we are in.