The Magic Box...
Do any of you remember the days when telephones were connected to each other with wires, and it was only the wealthier households that could afford a private line? The rest of us had to contend with party lines that connected two or more homes. A long distance call was beyond affordability for most people. Letters and telegrams (when the need was urgent) served as the primary communications method with friends and families in places that were often not all that far away, but still further than a local call.
Today we have become addicted to devices that are not only telephones but much more. Not only can we communicate with each other, no matter were we are and how far away our friends or business associates are, but we use these handy devices for navigation, for updates on airplane schedules, for making reservations at nearby restaurants, for shopping, for traffic alerts, and as many other apps as we may choose to add. There is virtually no limit to what we can ask these devices to do for us.
As we walk down any street, or sit at an airport, or have a meal at a restaurant, we see everyone around us intently interacting with their hand-held devices. The younger generation is growing up ingrained with this behavior and would be lost without an ever-present access to the world as they know it. These devices have become an integral part of our daily lives. Indeed these are "magic boxes" that tell us everything we may wish to know.
What would we do if one day these magic boxes simply disappeared? How many of us know what is really contained in that thin little device with the pretty and colorful touch screen that tells us so much?
To even those of us who keep up with technology progress, it is difficult to appreciate all that is contained in these little boxes. Of course we see the display and the touch panel and those in themselves are incredible engineering feats with their full-color high-resolution screens, multi-touch overlays, tiny LED backlights, complex multi-layer light guides, and microscopically small flexible interconnects. The circuitry that gives them the power of a mainframe computer of just a few decades ago, is integrated into a few small chips. The communication receiver and transmitter are likewise just a few tiny specs of ICs surface-mounted to a thin carrier board. And all this comes together with a layer of "sticky stuff" and some intricately designed miniature snap fits.
In order to achieve this miniaturization, it has taken a worldwide effort by many engineers. The integrated circuits, displays, touch panels, and finished devices are manufactured using specialized processes that exist only in a few places in the world.
We have become incredibly dependent and interdependent as a civilization. We must rely on many others for our very existence. This in itself is not all that bad. However, should anything go wrong or something happen to disrupt any part of this process, we have little to fall back on. The Internet itself is in a fragile state. Our computers are way too susceptible to being taken over by those with less than honorable intentions. We read almost daily about some company or entity that has been hacked and whose records are now in the hands of those who will most likely use them for nefarious purposes. I personally get at least a hundred e-mails each day that if I chose to open the attachments or respond in any way my computer would be immediately invaded.
The technological complexity that we now have has brought with it great new conveniences and opportunities. We have embraced these conveniences and have become dependent on them. Nevertheless, it's scary to realize that our younger generation is growing up with their lives so intimately tied to these devices, devices that depend on a worldwide network of technology that is not all that robust. Nor do most of this younger generation appreciate the complexity and intricacy of these devices that they so casually take for granted. Aren't these really just "magic boxes" that respond like genies to our requests?
Should you have any thoughts you would like to share on this topic or others you may use your "magic box" to call me at 425-898-9117, or you can reach me directly from this site.