IBM PC Turns 30 Today - Business Insider

An IBM computer:

It’s no secret that technology, whilst has accelerated the most in the past decade or so, has been around and advancing for years prior, and some have been around to witness this fundamental shift in society. As with humanities first steps into any new world, there’s always advantages and disadvantages- things best left in the past and things to continue progressing.

The first computer my dad had was the IBM computer, in the 1980s, when he was living in Singapore still (despite the IBM computer being an American development). It was rather simple from what he told me: no printer connection, basic output on the screen, chunky components. 1-2MB of storage capacity. He was a teenager at the time where computers were considered a rare luxury, and his dad (my grandad) had gotten it for entertainment. My dad specifies, “We didn’t use computers for school work, even when I got my first PC in university. Even then, I only used it to read online forums, and never for school research. That sort of thing was exclusively done through the libraries.” I was even surprised to learn that internet connection had to be done via phone dial ups, making merely the connection process a pain at that time. Computers were basic, yet complex for users during my dad’s time, such that there were commands, but they weren’t intuitive.

Not that this stopped those who could afford it getting them anyway- something I think that’s carried on to this day and age. As soon as a new samsung comes out, or yet another iphone, you’d hear about the minimal upgrades and the outrageous price point the next day, through instant updating on social media and newsites. And of course, people still buy them. It’s strangely, a necessity.

My dad also mentions that touch screen technology was revolutionary, as it made device usage so much more accessible and easier to use. He recalls when he got me the very first ipad, when I was 8 years old (which is still in good working condition) and we were living in the UK. Ironically, a time where touch screens in Singapore, were so unheard of that they may as well had no existed.

Everything You Need to Know About the First Generation iPad

The first generation ipad:

And yet, now in 2020, 80% of Singaporean citizens have a smart phone. Covid 19 has surely also boosted the usage of technology in a Singaporean community, my dad says. The top three uses for technology at his workplace as a diplomat are email access, internet access, and video conferencing. He later tells me how much of a catalyst covid 19 was for people coming to realise the benefits of video conferencing, as opposed to physical meetings. For example, meetings have to start and end on time, giving people more free time to exercise or spend time with family. He even says that after covid 19 blows over, video conferencing will definitely still be in use, at least at his workplace.

Despite the fact that my dad works for the government, he tells me that there’s no employee surveillance to speak of. Biometric identification is rarely used, and is reserved for only specific personnel. I myself, am not a working adult yet so I can’t exactly compare this in terms of the usage of technology in the workplace. However as a student, technology is used in quite similar ways, even in terms of our pastimes and using technology in our free time- my dad and I frequently watch youtube, for example. He also uses microsoft word, outlook and powerpoint, which isn’t too far off from what I would be using.

In comparison to the fairly slow start of modern technology in the early 1980s, its acceleration is accelerating in itself. Unfortunately, my dad was able to come up with an answer for “What do you think will be the 2 most pressing concerns with technology in 10 years?” which was: “Hacking and spying will become more prevalent. Intrusion of privacy will be more common.” Especially in the industry he works in, these concerns are quite justified given its affects historically. 

Lastly, he tells me the technology he has the most hope in is 5G networking, for its significant impact of increasing humanity’s technological power and speed of future progressions, for example in telemedicine. Ironically, 5G network was also his greatest fear, changed from his initial answer of artificial intelligence. “We’ll become so reliant on a robust network, and who knows what will happen to our minds from the constant simulation.”

5G network is just starting to be introduced, so this may be a nearer future than expected. An article by Bloomberg observed it’s impact and functionality in the tested cities of Hong Kong and Tokyo, also tested throughout South Korea. Large smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi have already caught on the train, having millions of 5G phones sold already, and not at such an increased price relative to before. This new level of accessibility due to its fairly low price point will definitely make 5G more of a norm, as the article explains.

The power of 5G is undeniable; “For example, at a gigabit per second (1Gbps), a user could download a 9-hour audiobook in less than 1 second”. This certainly opens up many possibilities in terms of communications, but also processing data, perhaps affecting advances in science and health. 5G will also surely be adopted by governments, though its utilisation of them will depend on the government. This immense power may not necessarily be all good though because like as my dad said, being constantly connected and simulated may be harmful to the mind. Moreover, linking to his point about his concerns for the future effects of advanced technology, it may make it easier and faster to access confidential documents or information. Attacks via phone masts have already occurred, becoming more prevalent during quarantine. The stakeholders of this security issue could range from casual smartphone users, to governments and scientific agencies, perhaps even affecting the world’s economy.

According to the article however, 5G is probably not going to be becoming the norm so soon, just yet. ” Verizon Wireless Inc. recorded a max speed of 846Mbps with 3.1% availability in Chicago — or wider availability without much of a speed bump — T-Mobile US Inc. covered 57% of Washington but at a less impressive 148Mbps.” Carriers will need to first improve the technical design, specifically having more and better masts in place, in order to bring what 5G is promising.

Graphic shows 5G's frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum - within the non-ionising band at the lower end of the scale.




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