SMT007 Magazine

SMT-Dec2014

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54 SMT Magazine • December 2014 The Internet is arguably one of the most important inventions in human history. It is, of course, dependent on myriad technologies that make it possible, and each of those tech- nologies has technologies which are dependent upon others, and so on. The chain of depen- dence stretches back to the earliest humans, the invention of language, and the recording and storage of information. Those roots extend back deeply indeed. Caves recently discovered in Indonesia fea- ture images of animals recorded by our ances- tors 40,000 years ago. We have a seemingly ge- netic need to share information for the benefit of our society from nuclear family, to clan, to tribe, to nation, to the world. We have even felt compelled to share information with the uni- verse by means of the gold records aboard the Voyager spacecraft, which last year left our so- lar system and headed into interstellar space. Through the Internet, information is now being promulgated and propagated at a pro- digious rate. Renowned inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil has studied the rate of growth of knowledge, and he has observed that human knowledge and technology have been increas- ing at an exponential rate since our ancestors recorded those first images on cave walls. This has led to his prediction of our achieving a technological singularity possibly as soon as the next two or three decades. This has both good and bad implications, which are not part of this commentary, but it suggests that tech- nologies will enable machine intelligence that will exceed that of humans. While I am not dis- posed here to comment on the pros and cons of that not-too-distant future, the prospect does cause one to wonder if that as-yet unrealized intelligence is not currently driving humanity to assure its future realization. That aside, we presently find ourselves awash in information (along with disinforma- tion and misinformation) coming at us through our various electronic appliances, from com- puters to cell phones. Search engines provide us with means for finding information, but they do nothing to evaluate this information. The simple reality is that policing of information is not something free societies are overly en- thusiastic about (even though there are clearly misguided and even dangerous websites littered throughout the internet). This brings us to this ArTiClE by Joe Fjelstad vErDAnT ElECTroniCS Tracking Technological Change in the Internet Age

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