Like (or about when the mobile revolution

 

Like
goldfish in bowls, we are depriving ourselves of the necessary room to grow. Bowls
are terrible places to keep goldfish in because it is too small, which stunts the
goldfish’s growth. Lack of room to explore causes boredom, and the lack of filtration
causes bad water quality which makes it hard for the fish to breathe. If you were
a goldfish, you would want to be able to swim more than six inches before reaching
the edge of your world. Get out of your fishbowl and explore the open world around.

Along
with technology zapping away our brain cells, it seems to have made the world
bigger, yet smaller at the same time. People are able to hold the world in
their hand, but without the ability to focus the world can become like a
fishbowl. You might be wondering why I am comparing the world to a fishbowl
when I just said technology has expanded the common man’s world; well hang with
me. Technology is not just for work, it is also for play. The entertainment
industry is booming with new tech all the time. A person can not only carry a
device that lets them communicate instantly with other people, but also watch
television and movies, play millions of games, and much more, just in their
pocket. The average attention span for a goldfish is nine seconds. Humans
should easily be able to beat nine seconds, right? Wrong. Well, nowadays it is
wrong. “Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile
revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 to eight seconds”
(McSpadden). In only seventeen years, we have lost four seconds off our
attention span. Attention span is defined as “The length of time for which a
person is able to concentrate on a particular activity or subject” by the
Oxford Dictionary. This seems untrue, but think about when you are doing daily
tasks. Take heating up something in the microwave; it only takes a couple
seconds, but most people will scroll through their smartphones during that
time. Smartphones have become our worlds, our fishbowls.

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            This mental decline can be linked to our memories.
Technology not only thinks for us, it can also remember for us. Long-term
memories are important because they make a person who they are. All of their
experiences, thoughts, idea, biases, every bit of who they are, are locked
inside their long-term memories. These along with bits of data from the
surrounding world are all bits of information. Carr explains that for memories
to exist, they must first be processed by short-term memory then passed through
to long-term memories. Our short-term memory only lasts around fifteen to
thirty seconds and can hold five to nine bits of information. The process of
information being integrated into our long-term memories takes time and Carr
believes that because of the constant stream of information coming from the internet
and other electronic devices has caused an “environment of distraction – almost
perpetual interruption” (Carrison, 6). With all the information invading our
short-term memories, it kicks out the other data before it can be passed
through to long-term memory.

            This brings up the question, if computers keep getting
smarter, is humanity getting dumber? Some of you might be thinking that
computers keep getting smarter because of the highly intelligent men and women
who program them, but I am not talking about those people. I am talking about humanity
as a whole, an average. Nicholas Carr and Andrew Keen, two authors who often
have discussions on the digital revolution, have many ideas on this subject. Their
argument is based on “the negative physiological effects of smart technology”
(Carrison, 6). Keen reveals his distaste for the Internet when he gives
examples of some of the false information that is found on the Internet that is
disguised as truth. Billions of dollars every year are funneled into classroom
technology, but “according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, test
scores for high school students have not improved over the last forty years”
(Carrison, 6). Not to mention, America’s national literacy rate has remained
dormant for years. The United States of America is supposedly the greatest
country in the world, but how can it be if it continuously continues to fall
behind? The fact that other countries are surpassing America proves that it is
possible to continue advancing, America just has yet to figure out how.

            Just like the agricultural and industrial revolutions,
the technological revolution has been making some occupations grow smaller and
smaller, and others obsolete, due to automation. An estimated forty-seven
percent of America’s workers had jobs that could become completely automated.
Jobs including telemarketers, accountants/auditors, technical writers, and even
actors are all possible occupations to get computerized. Take shopping for
example. It used to be considered a chore and a hassle until Harry Gordon
Selfridge opened one of the world’s first department stores. Selfridge made it
so shopping was luxurious and fun. Store workers were able to help and advise
the customers, and since it was a new field the job was considered upscale. Today,
most people do not need these workers to help them, unless the size or color
they want is in the back. Most department stores today are more like self-serve
with the employees doing everything behind the scenes. Online shopping has
increased in popularity over the years making the need for retail workers
decrease. Stores that still have a physical shop to go into can be managed by a
few workers overseeing machines that fold and stack clothes after being tried
on. However, other jobs that require human emotion or creativity are safe.
Therapists and clergy members cannot be computerized because they need to be
able to connect on a human level, something Artificial Intelligence (AI) cannot
do; yet. As of right now AI can learn quickly, they can respond as though a
real person would, but they still feel nothing. Neuroscientists say that our
brains are the computers of our bodies “with our minds being the software”
(Koch and Giulio, 66). Being alive and conscious is not only about what behaviors
are being done, but how the brain feels, the subjective experience. At the
moment computers have surpassed the brainpower of rats and are said to surpass
the brainpower of human brains by the year 2030. Even if this is true, robots
will not revolt and overthrow humanity, mostly because they will still have not
achieved consciousness. A part of me hopes they never do.

Then,
in 2007, the game was changed; Apple released their first generation of
iPhones. I remember when my dad got his first iPhone. I was mesmerized, and
still am, by how I was able to hold dozens of photos, games, and apps in just
the palm of my hand. After the iPhone was released, technology began to advance
at an exponential rate. As you can see in the graph, major advancements in tech
started out decades apart, then they got closer and closer together eventually
overlapping each other. Every day it seems that new breakthroughs and
discoveries are being made. “The challenge is to think of ourselves as
permanently in beta–constantly evolving and adjusting” (Nazarian). Phrases
like that would not be around if it hadn’t been for the technological revolution.
It is best put by Reid Hoffman who said, “The trick is to never stop starting.”

            As you can see, each revolution sparked a new one.
Humanity has always looked towards the future. Innovation and progress has
always been an important quality in humanity and this is still true. Right now
our world is in what is being called a technological revolution. While the
industrial revolutions had a great deal of growth, this technological
revolution is growing at an exponential rate. To illustrate the rate at how
technology improves let’s look at the computer. Computers started as giant
pieces of machinery taking up an entire room and could compute basic
arithmetic. This was in 1941 and it was called the Z3. In 1944 at Bletchley
Park, the Colossus was being used. This early computer used up to two thousand
five hundred vacuum tubes and a continuous roll of punched paper was moved by a
series of pulleys to work out possible solutions to a code. Fast forwarding to
the year 1977, the earliest form of what we now know as a computer was
introduced. The TRS-80 by Radio Shack was a desktop computer that “included a Z80
microprocessor, video display, 4 KB of memory, a built-in BASIC programming
language interpreter, and cassette storage” (Computers). One of the first
ancestors of modern handheld computers was The Apple Newton Personal Digital
Assistant (PDA) by Apple. Many of its features are what would eventually define
a good handheld computer in later decades. As desktop computers and PDA’s were
being revised and gaining popularity, Sony built and displayed the world’s
first camera phone in the year 2000. These featured color display and people
were able to wirelessly share the photos they took.

            Beginning around the middle of the nineteenth century, even
more advanced techniques and technologies of pre-existing industries became
available. Most notably was the expansion of oil, electricity, and steel. Items
previously made from iron were now being manufactured with steel instead
because of its strength and low costs. Large bridges and skyscrapers, abundant
in modern day, were starting to appear in ever-growing cities. Railroads and
ships were also being built stronger with competitive pricing, allowing for the
implementation globalization. Additionally, the second industrial revolution
paved the way for electricity. It is impossible to think that we powered
anything without electricity today, but in the 1870’s when the first electric
generator was produced it was a big deal. Electricity lit the way for further
progress and advancements.

            Mostly confined to Britain in the beginning, the first
industrial revolution focused on using new materials, energy sources, invention
of machines, creating the factory system, and developments of transportation
and communication. Iron and steel were the most common materials being used
along with new energy sources such as coal, electricity, and the internal-combustion
engine. The factory system was another big development that stemmed from the
first industrial revolution. Before factories, products were made using the
putting-out system, also known as the domestic system. Whatever needed to be
made was either made in homes by families or in workshops by craftsmen. The
factory system created an organized system of production that is still being
used and improved. These improvements made the invention of new machines
possible; machines including the spinning jenny, Crompton’s mule, and the steam
engine. These machines led the way for the textile and transportation industry.
The cotton production had increased dramatically because of the agricultural
revolution and the industrial revolution made the process cheaper. Not long
after this first industrial revolution, a second one came along.

            Arguments over the pyramids always come from the
construction. How could ancient Egyptians build these magnificent monuments
without the invention of the wheel? What people fail to recognize is that the
world is always progressing; especially thousands of years ago. Construction
had to start somewhere and now it is always changing and becoming more
advanced. Periods of rapid advancement are called “revolutions”. Starting with
the agricultural revolution when the traditional system was replaced. New
science, technological improvements, and experimentation changed the way
farming was done. This began in the eighteenth century. Since it was easier to
produce more crops in more efficient ways people started to leave farms for
work in the cities. Thus, began the industrial revolution. Starting in 1712 a
period of change from a handcrafted economy to an industrialized and
manufacturing economy.

            Conspiracy theories are abundant when discussing the
pyramids. The most common is that aliens helped or completely built the
pyramids. This theory uses the fact that the three pyramids of Giza line up the
Orion constellation. It is believed that the pyramids are a terrestrial map of
the constellation and the Sphinx was built to represent the constellation Leo.
People who believe this theory state that the ancient Egyptians did not have
sufficient mathematical or technological knowledge to build the pyramids; they
did not even have the wheel yet. A new discovery is continuing to baffle and
astonish archeologists. A “void” has been discovered above the King’s Chambers
and its existence is making both conspiracy theorists and archeologists’ heads
spin with excitement. Since this discovery is very recent, it is too soon to
tell what the void’s true purpose was so both sides are giving their theories. A
leading theory from Egyptologists is the void is a part of the constructions of
the pyramids that was left over.

            Imagine the hot, desert sun beating down on you as you
look up at the wonder of the world towering over you. The pyramids of Giza are
an astonishing work of human architecture. The pyramids were likely a national
project built to show the wealth and power of the pharaohs. Standing at various
sizes over four hundred feet, the pyramids were built over four thousand years
ago during Pharaoh Khufu’s reign. They are built with an estimated two million stone
blocks that weighed an average of two and a half to fifteen tons each. Within
each of the pyramids is a complex system that include air shafts, the king and
queen’s separated chambers, and the grand gallery. The engineering that made
these great monuments are incredibly impressive; even today scientists cannot
be sure how they were built. One theory is that the communities across Egypt
contributed supplies such as workers or food. However, others argue that
humanity could have never completed this amazing feat.