Christian Long

George Dyson: The Birth of the Computer

In TED Talks on April 18, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Reflection by CAROLINE M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

George Dyson:  The Birth of the Computer

“The birth of the compute,”, or George Dysons’ title of “Barricelli’s Universe,” contained material that is vital to today’s technology. Barricelli was a mathematician who created one of the early computers. These early computers were beginning of a technological revolution. If you think back to the 90’s we rarely had cellphones, or “big-screen” TVs. In a span of ten or so years we’ve advanced by a large factor. It could never have happened without men and women in the past that Dyson talks of.

In my opinion I found that middle of Dyson’s speech relatively boring, but I am a teenager who doesn’t fully understand the extreme intelligence, time and innovation required to create something as complex as a digital computer.

To be entirely honest I found myself drifting into the future of technology today. I am more interested in what’s coming next than how someone created a computer with punch cards and no digital screen what so ever. I do understand, and in no way am downplaying, the credit deserved by Von Neumann, Barricelli, and Bigelow. The accomplishments and ideas they shared are truly incredible and worth knowing about. With all of their contributions and fresh additions to aged concepts they pushed forward into an era that is continually spiralling. This spiralling can be portrayed as a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your view of technology.

Those like Dyson probably are anxious for technology to become more and more advanced, but others like myself, may see it as taking over the simplicity of humanity. Movies like I Robot that play with Apple technology, like the iPod, make future technology or robots, seem dreadful. But who really know what it’ll end up being like. Our world may be an even better place when polluted with robotic figures, or it may end in World War III. I like the thought of continuing the ideas of previous geniuses but only to a certain extent. Technology at some point needs to slow down, but at this moment it’s still at its peak. There are still possibilities worth exploring. Men like those that birthed the computer won’t lose their jobs anytime soon due to the fact that our population today is entirely dependent on technology.

Where would we be without our cellphones, computers, and HDTV? When push comes to shove, we’d be nothing without technology.

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