Cheney Free Press -

 
 

By JAMES EIK
Staff Reporter 

It’s no longer about the light bulb; it’s about the future

Write to the Point

 


Things are about to change.

It might not be apparent just yet, but the world is living in an exciting time for technology. In truth, we’re living among the Teslas and Edisons of today’s generation and the level of technological growth is just about to heat up.

Many readers will remember some of the first home computers that came out in the 1970s, running BASIC programming. I just barely remember floppy discs from elementary school when they were actually floppy. Today, a more powerful computer than the one I used just 10 years ago sits in my pocket.

And let’s not get started on how the Internet has revolutionized business, social interaction and entertainment.

It all starts, I’m convinced, over a century ago with the drive to make the light bulb commercially affordable.

“Empires of Light” by Jill Jonnes provides an in-depth look at not only the famous rivalry between the two intellectual giants that were Tesla and Edison, but also delves into the atmosphere of the time. The average person could only marvel at the idea of not burning a gas light in their home, using safe and clean electricity.

In the past couple of years alone, advances in 3D printing technology have mirrored the advances that came with the light bulb starting in the 1880s. Using technology from 2004, one could print their own set of LEGOs, their own figurine sets, bobble head figures or toy replicas. Using today’s technology, we’re able to print a protein substitute that, when doctored up with some flavorings, can taste just like any fast food product out there.

The website http://www.shapeways.com has an immense store of items created by 3D printers, ranging from replacement parts to miniature toys, jewelry to headphone cufflinks made from stainless steel.

Just that variety alone brings up moral and ethical questions that weren’t even considered when this technology was first pioneered. Consider what this does to the patent and how Congress will need to act in the next couple of years as this technology becomes more mainstream. A small industrial 3D printer only costs $2,800, right on par with an iMac.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil has preached about a technological singularity, where man and machine merge. While his original prediction was for it to happen by 2050, exponential advances can only mean it will happen sooner than later. Unlike the number of decades it took to reach our current point in technological growth, this next wave will only take years.

And many of us aren’t even aware of it.

 

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