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Has Tech Peaked?

John Turnbull

Posted on May 30, 2019 08:53

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It may be new and shiny, but is it better?

It used to be that every time a product released its new line or upgrade, the focus was on "faster", "better" or "breakthrough innovations." And it was generally true. Think of the evolution of the Windows and Apple platforms, the way smartphones have grown into mini computers, and how laptops have decreased in size and weight, yet pack more punch.

But recently the gadgets have offered nothing new in the way of real innovations. Smartphones are bragging about their camera quality. Laptops are extolling the virtues of their cinema quality screens (I always get a kick out of how the advertisers show me how much better their screens are than mine while I watch the ad on my screen. Please tell me this doesn't work, sheeple!), and "perceived" bass response. Now is this in order to meet the demands of our vapid consumerism, or have we reached a plateau in breakthrough technology?

Think about it. What was the last tech gadget that was actually a breakthrough? Laptops shrinking in size? No. They just put in SSDs, removed the CD/ROM drives and store data on the cloud. Cloud storage? Nah. This has been around for years (think data centers) and is just being offered more to the public. Drones with cameras? They've had that since dubya dubya 2.

In fact, the last innovations of significance I can think of (and I'm definitely open to hearing your thoughts on this) are the iPod, Google/Siri assistants and the subsequent emerging IoT product line, and the parking assist features on vehicles. Everything else is just a redux with a shiny bow, hawked by the newest version of the pretty people. 

So what does this mean? Well, three civilizations come to mind: The Aztecs, the Egyptians and the Roman Empire. All had innovative technology that advanced society as a whole until it peaked and stopped. And what happened to each of these?

I think before we worry about sentient AI beings, we need to look back at history and see how things collapse on an epic scale when invention is replaced by indifference; when reliance and convenience replace thought and initiative. When profit replaces prophet.

John Turnbull

Posted on May 30, 2019 08:53

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Source: The Atlantic

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