The Progression Of Humanity
Human civilization developed gradually over several thousand years. Stone Age, as the term suggests, was a pre-historic human era where stone tools and objects created from stone were utilized. It began about 2.5 million years ago and lasted till 3300 BC. From bronze to metal and then to industrialization and the information age, mankind saw several eras and periods, each more complex and sophisticated than the previous one. Finally, by the mid-20th century, the Age of Information commenced.
In this text, an overview of the progression of humanity is presented in terms of the subsequent major eras that have passed through & witnessed by humanity in the past few centuries, categorized as follows (chronologically): the Industrial Age, the Technological Age, and the Age of Information. Based on the exponential rates of the progression, an analysis as well as the conclusion is presented, which provides a valuable insight on the future prospects of the human race, majorly on this question: where are we heading towards?
The Industrial Age
The Industrial Age was the period of prosperity after certain revolutions in the form of science & technology took place; it mainly occurred during the year 1760 first in the Great Britain. Coal-powered machines were made, and advances in the form of roads, construction and industry took place. Mass production began; the British used to trade from the people of the subcontinent—or the Indians—and exported raw materials in bulk at a very low-cost. Then, they would manufacture proper goods and sell them at relatively higher price(s). This model was then further adopted by other European nations, and it was widespread eventually. It resulted in flourishing businesses, albeit the third-world countries still continued struggling. The term Industrial Age was first coined by the English economic historian, Arnold Toynbee (1852-83), who described the changes brought by England in the country itself, during the time period from 1760 to 1840.
Basically, it was James Watt, a Scottish inventor & mechanical engineer, who first pioneered in making the steam engine; this invention was fundamental, and brought wide-scale changes in the world which had a long-lasting effect. Similarly, Richard Arkwright was also a leading pioneer & inventor during the Industrial Age and brought numerous changes; he revolutionized the working of the factories, as he introduced the power-driven machines in them. Other than these two, there were countless other people who made immense, long-lasting changes, but perhaps the list would only go on and one then.
Anyway, after these revolutions, advances especially in the fields of medicine, infrastructure, roads & railways immensely improved. The advent of the new & enormous, complex machines made all these changes possible.
However, during the Industrial Age, it was a tremendous challenge for the already-distressed countries to cope up with the new circumstances brought, in such a hostile environment. Therefore, this age further created many difficulties for the oppressed states.
The Technological Age
Currently, humanity is undergoing a phase of the Technological Age. The ‘Technological Age’ mainly took root during the time periods between 1900 and 1950; the Wright brothers—Orville & Wilbur—first pioneered in making a motor-driven airplane in 1903. Further, radio broadcasts—in which people could listen to their favourite singers from hundreds of thousands of miles away— were made shortly before the airplanes in 1895, coupled with the movements of pictures—now called as cartoons—as a source of entertainment brought the arrival of the Technological Age. Another noteworthy achievement, the electric light bulbs and finally, televisions were brought into existence in 1927 by the then 27 years old American inventor, Philo Farnsworth. All of these advancements eventually brought a new era: the Technological Age. For humanity, this new reality was although unimaginable, but real.
Ever since then, technological advancements have only accelerated; unsurprisingly, our lives have become more and more dependent on these complex & sophisticated machines. Moreover, undoubtedly, this new era has simplified our ways of living on a day-to-day basis/routine; there are numerous such examples. For instance, the new automobiles as well as smartphones have reliable tracking systems installed, so enabling us to not get lost. Similarly, the online systems created allow us to pay our bills—of nearly all types—with merely the click of a button! The technological achievements, in addition, have brought a social change that was otherwise not possible. Fundamentally, all these innovations have one clear-cut aim: to make living relatively easier for humankind; hence, they are of paramount importance.
The Age of Information: Widespread Communication
The Technological Age has recently been succeeded by another era; the Age of Information’, where every communication has become immensely faster as well as easier, for all the inhabitants of planet Earth. It has benefited humanity tremendously, that too in recent years.
The technologies and processors installed in the computers & smartphones of today have the equivalence of the ones that were used in the Apollo spacecrafts, made by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) first in the 1960s. Moore’s law, in simple definition, states that the capability and speed of the various types of computers can increase in every couple of years; and, most importantly, they will be of low-cost as well. Technically speaking, according to this law, the number of transistors in a microchip will double in every two years, thus increasing the capabilities of the computers, etc. Many scientists and researchers believe that Moore’s law is still applicable to today’s smartphones, as they are sticking to the predictions of the law. However, numerous other researchers are still questioning the credibility of Moore’s law, and if it is applicable on devices on a wide-scale. Recently, in 2019, the Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang declared that Moore’s law is dead; he said that it is technically difficult as well as costly to maintain the number of transistors being doubled for the tech-related companies.
Information technologies: How has the world changed?
In addition, communication systems have become widespread and the people dear to us—including those of family, relatives and friends—are just a message and/or phone call away. These systems have become so advanced that tools such as Skype or Zoom allow us to video call live to each other; other than that, email is also a useful platform, which enables us to communicate through texts and other features. The Age of Information has thrived particularly in the last few decades, and new systems like 5G technologies are emerging to better the communication system even further.
In spite of the fact that this new era we are living in is of paramount importance as has brought numerous revolutions, it does not mean that the previous era(s) are gone; it is to be kept in mind that, it doesn’t mean that the previous eras have become irrelevant for the human race In fact, with newer innovations being brought, they vastly advance the new activities that were being performed in the past; like agriculture, to give an example. The new tools have brought agriculture to another level. For example, new seed technologies, fertilizers, modern cultivation equipment, and processing & preservation systems have been devised. Similarly, the same goes to transportation, road technologies, infrastructure, and almost every field.
The previous era, the Industrial Age was, to say the least, a burdensome time for the third-world countries. But, in the current ‘Technological Age’, many new opportunities are being developed and it is predicted that many other will come, too, in the upcoming future. For humankind, it is pivotal to accept the new advancements of the sector of science & technology, and move ahead. Therefore, we must all embrace this new era, and master all the required skills to be successful and important for the future! For after all, the future looks promising: Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G technologies, Machine/Deep learning (M/Dl) will transform the Information Age to the next level; far beyond our imaginations. We cannot, at the current rates of the technologies of various fields progressing predict … how will the future look like in a 100 years? Super-tall skyscrapers? Colonization of the Moon, possibly the other planets as well? Underwater bubble cities? The advent of space elevators? Perhaps, these feats will be all conquered by humanity, with the rapidly-fast progression in the fields of science & technology.
AI and healthcare systems
AI has been brought into existence to some basic extent, and will thrive in the decades to come; a noteworthy—or primary—aspect of AI will be in healthcare applications, and it will be of immense help. But first, what is AI? As the name itself suggests, Artificial Intelligence is when some computer—or any machines, really—is trained to think and learn various things; basically, a large volume(s) of data is processed through these machines, and they are thus trained to learn. AI in various types of healthcare systems has already arrived, and the machines or smart computers—which are portrayed as AI in this sense—examine the tests or reports of the particular patient(s) in reference to the already laid-out treatments, and then give possible conclusions & solutions to the patient(s). A lot of scientific research has been done—undoubtedly, some of it is still in the process—in order to train such smart devices. The benefits are clearly visible in this context: fast results, low-cost, reliable treatments, and recommendations etc.
Collectively, humanity has progressed from the humblest of starts, to where the world stands today; if some person from 1920 comes into life in 2020, he/she would surely be astonished as well as awe-inspired. It would be unimaginable to see the world progressed by leaps and bounds, in just a 100 years, for that particular person: AI, robotics, communication systems, complex & sophisticated machines, and much more. One conclusion can be drawn from the entire text: with the current exponential rates of progression humanity is achieving, it will be difficult to predict how the world will really look like in another one hundred years … 2120. Maybe a reader from 2120, after skimming through this article, finds us at just a mere start of the technological advancements further to be achieved by the human race?