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Marshall’s Law

by Archives January 17, 2007

I got my first iPod in the fall of 2004, at a time when a majority of people didn’t really know what it was. My little 20 GB gadget was impressive to a lot of people. I felt pretty high-tech as I wowed my friends and colleagues with this technological marvel.

Fast forward almost three years and I still own the same mp3 player. The difference is that no longer are people impressed by my audio player. In fact, I’m the one that’s left behind in their digital dust, so to speak.

Technology is evolving at an amazing rate. My little black and white iPod seems to be the horse and carriage to the Ferrari mp3 players on the market today.

According to the New York Times, 39 million iPods were sold in 2006. And Apple Inc. is betting that their new iPhone will do just as well. It’s a phone, mp3 player, camera, web browser, all in a US $499 package the size of a regular cellphone.

As a kid I thought my family was pretty technologically savvy. We had one of the first personal computers available, a Macintosh 512K with a whopping 512kb of memory.

We then upgraded to a Macintosh SE/30, one of the first colour computers available. With all of 8mb of memory, how were we to use this behemoth of a processor?

As the years went by, technology seemed to develop at an exponential rate. Today we have cellphones with mp3 players, mp3 players with cameras, cameras with digital recording, the list goes on and on.

Although I don’t doubt the necessity and practicality of this technology, at times it seems to be getting a little ridiculous.

Researchers in Japan have developed a robot that can ballroom dance. Not perform surgery, not detect landmines, but keep a _ rhythm. Millions of dollars are spent annually into technological development, but will learning a Viennese ballroom style really help humanity? Johann Strauss might think it would, but I don’t. I believe we may be going a bit overboard with all these robotics.

Aren’t there better ways to spend money? Isn’t AIDS still an issue?

Think of an everyday task, anything. Chances are, engineers are developing a robot that can do the exact same thing. From robots that can play a game of mini-putt to do stand-up comedy, they’re in the works. At the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, Japan, these robots were out in full swing (especially the robot that could putt, heh).

Am I the only person wary of this robotic technology? Engineers are capable of creating robots that are increasingly human-like. Have these people never seen Terminator? How about The Matrix? Or even I, Robot? See where I’m going here?

I find it disconcerting when my VCR writes “GOODBYE” on its display screen when I shut it off, so the thought of having all these metallic humanoids running around isn’t really appeasing my state of mind.

Technology has improved our lives for the better, no doubt. We still have a long way to go though before everyone will have their own personal robot. But we still have an even longer way to go before world hunger is eradicated. And unfortunately, no robot can do that. Yet.

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