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Monday, November 26, 2012

The Cloud: Is it too high in the sky?

Cloud computing has been advertised by many different companies, especially IBM and Amazon, who are marketing new computing services that can be accessed easily through a web browser and internet connection. It is one way that internet services are being expanded to provide access to services that normally would be provided with physical hardware.

The cloud consists of several sets of services that normally are provided by hardware, but are now being provided through a web interface that then accesses hardware that a service provider maintains. Examples of this type of technology are servers that are maintained by a service provider that then allows users to purchase access to either the servers themselves, or just the right to have programs run on the server. It allows for the user to have access to hardware that they do not have to maintain themselves, and can be shared between multiple different users.

The key point to the cloud is that the pervasive nature of the internet allows for services to be proved wherever there is an internet collection. This allows service providers to maintain data centers that can then be accessed from anywhere. But what does this all mean? For many companies, this means a change in their information technology (IT) departments to a structure that does not rely on the maintenance of company-owned computers and infrastructure. What remains to be seen is whether further use of the cloud will result in the loss of jobs, or if it will actually create jobs as the industry evolves to meet them. What is at stake are the current jobs that are held by IT professionals whose jobs could be lost or downsized as more of these services are concentrated into service provided by cloud companies.

So the question that comes to my mind is this: does the expansion of the internet to provided access to new technology help the industry or hurt it? Many different computer technologies have been introduced that actually create jobs, rather than remove them, but there are still those who are replaced when they cannot change their careers to react to the changes. So the final question is whether the cloud is indeed too high in the sky, and will it cause people to fall off as it continues to rise?

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Newer, Safer Driving World

It is predicted that by the year 2040 every car could be riding on the road without a key part of todays cars. This aspect is the driver. With advances in technology this feat of having cars functioning without drivers, previously only seen in futuristic movies, appears to be the way of the future. What would these autonomous cars be able to do for society?

If these cars can function in the way they were designed they could significantly decrease the amount of accidents, and therefore deaths, that have become all too common with the use of automobiles. autonomous cars basically use spacial relationships between themselves and other cars and objects. With the use of an extensive network "smart cars" could use satellite imaging information combined with constantly updated information on other cars around them to safely and efficiently drive. The key concept is "human error" can be eliminated which eliminates unpredictability and will lead to fewer accidents.

Google, better known for it super fast browsing speeds and internet superiority, has been experimenting and developing the technology to one day have completely autonomous cars. As described in the video the technology now is only meant to be a supplemental help to drivers to help them with the unexpected, it is not meant to drive all by itself. It has obviously made a good impression as it has led to new legislation in California allowing self-driving cars to legally be on the road. So even though cars aren't at a point where they can drive all by themselves, it appears that that day may not be too far away.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Will Technology Save Us? Part 2

Let’s jump right in to the epic conclusion to this two part series with a Ted talk by Peter Diamandis called “Abundance is our Future.” 

Diamandis talks about how technology has unlocked not only luxuries, but a new girth of communication, resources and new possibilities. Let’s check some of these statements. We know that computers have changed the world over. At the present, the world has never seen more global communication. Internet has opened up the possibilities for global connections. At an instant, anytime a person can be connected across the world if they have access to internet (unless you’re in China where it can be difficult).

It is sited that there are far less global conflicts and that, in fact, we live in the one of most peaceful time in human history. According to Andrew Mack,  who wrote “A More Secure World” argues that the world has seen a decline in recent years of conflict. As this graph of his shows a decline in the international conflicts per year since the 50’s:

This peace is argued as a “nuclear peace” to where fear of nuclear weapons has stopped countries from going to war. This is also only a recently studied; are we in the time now right before the fog of peace clears? History has told an interesting story, however. Ever since the first civilizations appeared war has been constant. Even from the first civilization in Mesopotamia the Sumerian’s raged war do to resources and wealthWhat is the history of the Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Hans, Samoans, Sioux, Mongols, Americans, etc? The answer is war and more war. Any way history is looked at, the present is very peaceful in comparison. If technology increases and third world becomes new world, countries I believe there will be no need for war.

Diamandis also talks about how technology has opened up resources. He gives the example how the emperor of Siam ate with aluminum which was the world’s most precious metal at the time. Until technology made aluminum so cheap it has become disposable. So will new technology be able to save humanity? People like Diamandis will say a resounding yes. New technology will facilitate communication and therefore be able to problem solve on a global level like never before.  Incoming technology will harness renewable energy sources like solar, biofuel, hydro, (fusion?), and others. The optimist will say that we are only limited by our own limitations. And our limitations are not very limiting.  The possibilities that technology will bring will never-the-less bring a new horizon different from anything before it. The question will rise: will we be ready for this novel history and technology?