The speed of technology


Almost two decades ago now humanity reached the milestone of having more data stored digitally than in analogue form. This is breathtaking not just for the scale of information, but the speed with which the transition occurred. Humans have had records in written and spoken forms for thousands of years, yet the integrated circuit was invented in some of our lifetimes.

While I’d argue this shift has overall been a net positive, we’re still grossly ill-prepared for all the implications. We’re seeing this manifest in politics, journalism, science, media… almost every field of human endeavour the more I think about it. With this technology comes the promise of solving or helping with a lot of the world’s problems, but it introduces additional challenges and twists on existing problems, and has been responsible for creating new ones.

I remember reading that cars are dangerous because our brains lack sufficient bandwidth to process stimuli coming at us any faster than running speed. I’m wondering if there’s an analogue—heh—there about technology. Has:

  • our progress been so rapid, and
  • the machines so quick at disseminating information

…that we’re simply not equipped to handle it?

We need artificially-smooth surfaces, lane markings, traffic lights, consistent speed limits, and training to remove as much uncertainty from operating these wheeled death traps as possible. What do we need to do to make technology like this, without hobbling or removing the power with which we’ve derived so much benefit?

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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