Humans are the most unusual species on the planet. Conventionally, large predators rule the animal kingdom. But humans have none of the strength, claws, or fangs that you associate with a predator. Our ability to innovate, however, is what sets us at the top of the food chain. Thanks to our opposable thumbs, we gave birth to conveniences like the telephone and non-cash payment methods like the Spectrum customer service phone number. Most importantly, humans continue to innovate.
Our innovation is often based on aggregated technological advances. But which are the most important ones? The ones that we owe our modern lifestyles too? That is exactly what this blog discusses. Read on to discover more:
Our modern smartphone and high-tech home phones are among the most recognizable devices today. But all of these advanced marvels would not have been possible without the earliest telephones. Alexander Graham Bell is widely credited as the inventor of the telephone. The now-famous inventor set out to tackle a key communication problem: speed. The telegram was already in use, but Bell wanted to create an entirely new system that could be scaled up as needed. Luckily, he managed to achieve his goal and developed the world’s first working telephone. Bell went on to create the Bell Telephone Company, which later became AT&T.
Domesticated horses were the earliest source of non-pedestrian travel. And they remained the primary mode for more than a millennium. The steam engine locomotive helped to make long-distance transport much safer. But since a train can only run on tracks, people still relied on horses or horse-drawn carriages for personal use.
Of course, in the late 19th Century, innovators like Cark Benz began experimenting and came up with early patents. These would go on to prove that the motorcar was indeed a viable and reliable way to travel. And with Henry Ford’s innovative assembly line approach, by the 1920s, motor vehicles were being mass-produced. Even today’s electric cars, while far more advanced, have only changed the fuel and power systems from classic fossil fuels. The original idea of a personal and accessible mode of transport still holds true today.
Radio was, for a very long time, a marvel that allowed people to access entertainment in the comfort of their homes. But the television was not long in following up. Since visual cues make a far greater impression than audio cues, the TV was destined to push the radio set out of American homes. Early TVs used clunky CRT technology. Today’s TVs use pixels and LEDs. But the underlying idea is still constant: deliver visual entertainment, news, and sports content to homes. All without making TV entertainment unaffordable.
The internet as we know it was born during the Cold War. Fearing a nuclear attack that could potentially destroy existing communication infrastructures, the internet was originally a network of connected computers. The internet was meant to serve as a backup mode of communication that would allow the US government to function, even if the USSR hit it with a large-scale nuclear weapon. Fortunately, the Cold War ended before there was any nuclear fallout, although there were a few close calls. But the internet did not die with it.
By the late 80s and 90s, as personal computers gained popularity, people could get internet access at their homes. The earliest forms were dial-up services that used the same copper wires as a telephone. But other types of internet services like cable internet, satellite internet, and even fiber-optic internet emerged. Today’s internet speeds would have been inconceivable a few decades ago. And they have evolved to become a big part of social, personal, and professional lives. However, the internet’s primary purpose of sharing information remains unchanged to this day.
Artificial intelligence was once squarely in the realm of science fiction. The rogue AI trope continued well into modern times. Movies like Terminator and A Space Odessey immortalized AI as evil and/or potentially uncontrollable. However, thanks to the aggregated advances in computing, the internet, and data sciences, AIs are no longer fictional. Today they are almost everywhere. From your smartphones to your smart vehicle and even in the search engines you use every day.
Of course, AI tech is still in its infancy. After all, the technology that it depends on did not exist a couple of decades ago. It is still a long way from achieving its true potential. But that does not discount the fact that AI could prove to be perhaps the most significant invention in the 21st Century. Its uses a few decades down the road will be exciting to see.