The 21st century has seen rapid changes, especially in the field of technology. Almost every day brings new news of a technological update in one of the many branches of Tech. Some may wonder how and why technology is evolving so fast.
Technology is evolving so fast because of a phenomenon known as Accelerating Change. Each technological improvement can create the next, stronger generations of technology at a faster rate. As each generation of technology is better than the last, it builds new technology faster.
Several scholars, mathematicians, and philosophers have examined the phenomenon of Accelerating Change. This article will explore the phenomenon and its connection to technology’s rapid evolution in detail. We’ll also consider the advantages and disadvantages of technology’s rapid development.
Is Technology Evolving Too Fast?
Most people agree that technology is evolving fast, but some are concerned that technology is progressing too quickly. According to a study by Edelman, 61% of participants surveyed stated that the pace of technology change is too fast. Some of the main concerns that participants had about the rapid evolution of technology is that:
- Governments around the world have not developed a deep enough understanding of technology to regulate it effectively.
- Technology’s rapid evolution results in information being quickly shared, which makes people distrust its veracity.
- Technology may cause several jobs to become automated, resulting in a loss of work.
Some additional disadvantages of technology’s rapid evolution are explored below.
Increased Dependency on Technology
We now rely on technology to carry out a variety of different processes and functions. However, if the technological tools we depend on fail, these functions may stop. Because we are so rapidly adopting technological tools, we may not have implemented backup means of carrying out processes.
Increase in Unemployment
Our increased dependency on technology has also made many human jobs redundant. This is a phenomenon known as technological unemployment. Some economists argue that this unemployment will cause a change in the way society functions.
For example, countries with high rates of technological unemployment may decide to implement a universal basic income or shorter working hours.
As we depend on technology more, we also input more and more data into technological systems. We input personal, location, and financial information in our mobile phones and computers to carry out transactions at an everyday level.
Financial, policy, and other confidential information are uploaded into technology at a company and government level. This loss of control creates privacy concerns as the data we upload can be hacked into and misused.
Why Technology Is Evolving So Fast
There are several reasons technology is evolving so fast. Advances in technology can be credited to accelerating change, increased interest and funding in technological research, and increased demand for technology.
The Phenomena of Accelerating Change
The primary reason technology is evolving so fast is because of accelerating change. Accelerating change is seen not just in the evolution of computers but in the improvement of all technology, including mobile phones and industrial equipment.
The earliest generations of each type of technology and technological tools were designed and constructed by humans. For instance, Alan Turing conceptualized one of the earliest examples of a computer called the Turing Machine. This machine was designed to carry out complex calculations and is a mathematical model of computation.
Since then, others have built upon these ideas and improved the complexity of computer actions. As more complex computers were built, they became capable of helping humans design more enhanced versions of themselves.
As computers become more capable, the process of designing new generations becomes faster and faster. Finally, humans will possibly need to intervene and contribute only at a very high level.
Increased Funding for Technology Research
The importance of technology has been recognized globally. Companies and industries have budgets that are allocated to technology research and improvement. This model is used on a government level.
In 2021, the United States federal government allocated almost $53.36 billion towards the civilian information technology budget. Part of this budget is used to fund research, development, and the production of technology. This increased budget will lead to better technology which will enhance the accelerating change.
China’s push for technology self-sufficiency led to spending on Research, and Experimental Development climbed to $378 billion in 2020.
Increased Demand and Use for Technology
As we embed ourselves firmly into the digital century, the demand for technology is ever-growing. This demand is at the consumer level, where everyday consumers want more advanced technological gadgets such as a mobile phone with more extensive storage, a better camera, and faster processing.
The demand is also at an industry and government level where the adopted technologies can make work more efficient.
This increased demand leads to companies investing in skilled technical engineers and developers to improve products. As the top talent works on developing technology, it evolves at a faster rate.
What Are the Advantages of Technology Evolving Fast?
It’s important to note that some of the rapid technological changes have helped humans progress, such as medical and scientific developments. Technology has also allowed for faster and easier communication and will enable us to share information faster.
Medical and Scientific Developments
Both medical and scientific research is supported by more advanced technology. Technology can quickly carry out calculations and processes that would take a human much longer to do. Technology can also reduce the risk of human error, making the development of products more efficient.
Faster and Easier Communication
Technology is the reason that we now live in a global village. Communication across the world is possible with just a few clicks or the press of a button. This access allows for the growth of the economy. It also allows countries and companies to share information and work together to make new developments.
Examples of Fast-Evolving Technology
There is an abundance of examples that show technology’s rapid evolution. Some are common, everyday examples, such as computers, mobile phones, and automobiles. Other rapidly evolving technologies include green technology and biotechnology.
As discussed in our article “Your Cell Phone Was Born in the U.S. Military,” “The first handheld “Brick” Cellular Phone was introduced by Motorola’s Dr. Martin Cooper. He made the first call on April 3rd, 1973.” This mobile phone only allowed incoming calls and took 10 hours to charge for 30 minutes of talk time.
Since then, mobile phones have evolved into smartphones that are “Computers” in your pocket and can receive and make calls, send and receive messages, connect to the internet, take photos, and carry out various other functions.
This dramatic evolution of mobile phones took only a few decades. With the latest advent of 5G, extremely fast processors, and continued technological advancement and investment, they will only continue to get “smarter” and better.
Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot is believed to have created the first self-propelled car in 1769. This breakthrough was (by today’s standards) a simple steam-powered tricycle. Several inventors and engineers designed different automobile models and functions; to create the modern automobile, over 100,000 patents and designs were involved.
From the mid-1980s to the early 2000s, automobile technology rapidly evolved, and features like electric doors, CD players, and keyless ignition became part of automobiles.
Today, automobiles are on their way to driving themselves like the Waymo One Driverless Taxis in Phoenix, AZ. Vehicles today have GPS, WiFi, and the ability to self-park. Automobiles continue to evolve rapidly.
At a societal level, one aspect of technology that has seen rapid evolution is green technology. Please see our article “What Are Green Electronics?” and as we state in our article What Is Green Technology?
“Green technology uses different science and technology fields to conserve nature and its resources, counteract the effects of pollution and global warming, and develop new or alternative techniques, strategies, and technologies to rehabilitate an already damaged ecosystem.”What Is Green Technology? Tech Evaluate
Several technological startups focus on technology that will make the way we live more sustainable. For instance, a company called Climeworks offers specialized tools that remove carbon dioxide from the air.
As more people become aware of the importance of greener living, the demand for and evolution of green technology will continue to increase.
From the start of the 21st century, medical researchers and scientists are focused on improving biotechnology, which uses biological systems to develop new products. For instance, regenerative medicine focuses on how to engineer tissue and artificial organs.
This field of technology continues to grow as researchers recognize its value in protecting and extending human life. AI and vaccine development were major contributors in speeding up testing by utilizing AI models that helped researchers analyze vast amounts of data for the vaccine search for COVID-19. mRNA-based technology-based vaccines were also intricate to the whole process.
3D Printed Prosthetics and Tissue, Robotic Surgery, Telemedicine, just to name a few, are all changing or in the process of changing the landscape of medical treatment. Nanomedicine using gold nanoparticles to target drug delivery to tumors is another example of incredible science fiction caliber technology.
Artificial Intelligence since its early beginnings in the 1950s with “A. M. Turing’s (1950) Computing Machinery and Intelligence paper.” This paper was followed by “A Proposal for the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence” from August 31, 1955, by J. McCarthy, Dartmouth College, M. L. Minsky, Harvard University, N. Rochester, I.B.M. Corporation C.E. Shannon, of Bell Telephone Laboratories.
This famous paper leads to the Dartmouth Conference in 1956 and fast-forward to today. We live in a fantastic future where AI can translate a foreign language verbally or by text on your Smartphone. It can read your fingerprints or your face and at the same time beat you at chess, Go, or some of the best video games in the world, and this is just the beginning,
With Artificial Intelligence on the path to self-learning, it is forecasted to have existential growth in its capacity. Companies like Open AI, Google, and Microsoft are at the forefront of the AI revolution; with AI learning aspects of self-coding with machine learning, it seems that the possibilities could be endless.
It’s no secret that technology is evolving very fast. Technology is rapidly developing because of accelerating change. With each technological update, the capacity to improve future generations of technology gets faster and more efficient. In other words, as technology becomes better, it can contribute to designing and producing more advanced versions of itself.
However, it’s important to remember that while the evolution of technology will bring many benefits to society, it may also cause some concerns. The rapid change of technology should be paired with careful consideration of the effects on humanity.
- BBC: Technological influence on business activity
- Climeworks: Home page
- Edelman: Edelman Trust Barometer 2020
- HostingTribunal: How Fast is technology evolving
- iDriveSafely: Evolution of the Automobile
- IndustryToday: The Growth of Technology
- LiveScience: Computer History
- Nature: Regenerative Medicine
- NewYorker: Universal Basic Income
- NTNU: What is Biotechnology
- SingularityHub: Technology Feels Like Its Accelerating Because it Actually Is
- Statistica: United States Federal Budget
- ThriveGlobal: Advantages and Disadvantages of Modern Technology
- TheCenturyForum: Mounting Response to Technological Unemployment
- WeForum: How has technology changed – and changed us in the past 20 years