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The Birth of Modern Technology – 50 Years Ago to Now a Look at How Far We’ve Come

Much of the technology we take for granted today stems from 50 years ago. In 1968 we saw Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore launch pioneering semiconductor company, Intel, as well as the first large-scale test of RAND researcher Paul Baran’s distributed communications network ARPANET. Originally intended for scientists and researchers who wanted to share computers remotely, ARPANET quickly turned into something far greater: the Internet.

Technology has come a long way over the last 50 years, but many of the complex and high-performing technologies we have now have their roots in the unprecedented changes of the late 1960s.

When RAND researcher, Paul Baran, set out to design a more robust, redundancy-based communications network that would enable the military to communicate in the aftermath of a nuclear attack, he had no idea he was laying the foundation of the Internet we all know and love today.  Baran’s concept of separating information into packets before sending them out across a decentralized network of unmanned ‘switching’ nodes quickly led to the creation of a high-speed, digital framework for exchanging information we now call the Internet,” explains Todd Krautkremer, CMO at Cradlepoint.

50 years on and we are witnessing the birth of another networking revolution with 5G, which is poised to be as transformative as the Internet itself.  It has been less than a decade since 4G offered us wireless speeds of up to 100 megabits per second – the turning point for many data heavy technologies like music streaming and video conferencing.  In no time at all, LTE Advanced Pro will be able to deliver speeds up to 10 times faster.  5G will build on this to provide network latency in the single digit milliseconds, massive connectivity for IoT and significantly longer batter life.  5G will provide the foundation for software-defined infrastructure and carrier-edge computing, and just like 4G – and the Internet before that – it will act as the springboard for an abundance of fledgling technologies, including virtual reality, remote-controlled robotics, telemedicine and autonomous vehicles,” continues Krautkremer.

Innovation is the bread and butter of the technology

In the last 50 years, technology advancements born out of 1960s innovation have changed the global landscape dramatically.  As developments in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) converge, we find ourselves at the beginning of a new era of innovation.

Innovation is the bread and butter of the technology industry – we are constantly evolving to bring new and improved ways to live and work,” explains Phil White, CTO at Scale Computing. “Unsurprisingly, this drive for innovation has led to the industry looking remarkably different today than it did 50 years ago. At the forefront of this have been major developments in AI, IoT and robotics. For example, in 1968 we saw the first generation of the iconic Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, but today we are seeing the first generation of fully self-driven cars. Similarly, in 1968, a modern data center with primary storage consisting of racks and racks of tape drives wouldn’t even hold a candle to the computational power we all possess in our smartphones today. Now we are starting to see micro data centres, powering edge computing, enabling smart cars and in the future smart cities to make more accurate and informed decisions.”

It is important to remember that to achieve these awe-inspiring advances, huge innovations had to be made behind the scenes,” White continues. “Data storage may be less glamorous than the self-driving car it enables, but without it these technology advances wouldn’t be possible. Today IT has come a long way and virtually everyone is touched by it in some form.”

It’s all about the data

Data has the power to change our understanding of fundamental human behavior, and to unlock far greater insight into a range of business, economic and social areas.

Fifty years ago, many business decisions were made simply with a calculator to add up income and subtract costs,” explains Neil Barton, CTO at WhereScape about how data is transforming modern decision-making. “Today, however, a greater depth and breadth of data available has made decision-making more complex and the time it takes to gather, sort and analyze data for insight more critical to achieving a competitive edge. Using manual methods to gather and work with the data required for actionable business analysis would take months of effort and just isn’t practical in today’s real-time, instantaneous world. It would leave you nailing the ‘closed’ sign on your business doors faster than you could say ‘calculator.’”

Fortunately automation software now enables IT teams to intelligently automate the gathering of data and dramatically speed up the time it takes to derive business value from it.  Automating the process of data gathering can drive real business benefits and provide a flexible, template approach to personalization for every business’ unique decision-making requirements and data landscape. So fifty years later, while more data availability has evolved and added perhaps greater complexity to decision-making, so have the tools that support our ability to leverage the data to our fullest advantage,” Barton concludes.

Technology shaping our concept of privacy

As the world begins to realize not only the power, but also the risks inherent in widespread data sharing, technology is also shaping our concept of privacy.

Fifty years ago, we believed that our privacy was a given right: ‘My home is my fortress, with all documents that I keep in it!’  Fifty years later, we can see that the fortress is sitting on sand, semi-ruined and defenseless,” explains Joseph Feiman, Chief Strategy Officer at WhiteHat Security. “Growing desperate, we came to a conclusion that security technologies would protect our privacy: our personal data, most specifically.  We expected that data encryption, data masking and data tokenization, network firewalls, web applications firewalls, passwords and IDs will re-build our ‘privacy fortress.’  These expectations are dangerous and naïve.  No technology, alone or in combination with other ones, will enable our privacy the way it was 50 years go.  The amount of manually and automatically generated data is increasing with a speed that no technology is able to encompass.  The combination of all of the above-mentioned security technologies has already failed to protect us.  We should have no expectations for a more-comprehensive protection by technologies.”

Feiman explains that the real solution is not technological, but cultural.  He says, “Within the next five years, government organizations and enterprises will realize that they are unable to protect all, ever-growing volumes of data, and will begin releasing them into open (or-semi open) access, making it available to everyone, to most/all people.  This will perfectly coincide with the growing openness of the modern society, where people share, with known and unknown people, the information that they would have never shared 5, 10, … 50 years ago.  They share it via Facebook and Twitter, postings on websites, blogs and social and professional Internet communities.”

Does the government have to protect an individual’s address, if the individual has already shared it via social media?  Does the healthcare organization have to protect a terminal medical diagnosis, when the individual has already shared it among Internet social-group members?  That kind of already generally available information will constitute about 75 per cent of all personal information.  Relieved from the necessity to protect it, governments and enterprises will focus on protecting the remaining 25 per cent.  In that case, their chances to protect it will rise high enough.  We have been welcoming an open society.  So, we have it: society with lack of privacy.  Only culture, not technology, will help us live in it happily,” concludes Feiman.

 

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