Question: Department of Microelectronics and Nanoelectronics
In this paper I will be writing about the social structures in our society, mainly the way they were affected during the years when technology was starting to be introduced more to daily bases of living. Technology doesn't necessarily mean computer and electronic hardware, it dates back from the age of the Stone Age when stone knifes were first invented. These early inventions also affected the human society, today the main type of technology which is effecting out life is computer technology. The integration of computer technology in our lives will also be discussed and how some things which were normal in the past are now no longer done or even strange to do. Technology and society evolve together and affect each other drastically. All these advancements in technology hopefully would lead to better living but eventually over time the society finds out that some things do more harm than goodness. As always the human race has learned from experience. Today the computer based technology that affects society is mostly known as Information and Communications Technology (ICT), it is the support, development, implementation, softcopy information management and hardware. ICT is basically what controls social technology and communications today.
Telecommunications have changed the world our grand parents lived in. The way to communicate has become so easy you can talk to someone who lives 1000 kilometers away as if he lives right next to you. Telecommunications are the messages sent or the electronic systems which transmit the message being sent and the receivers receiving them. There are many types of devices which can be used to communicate with, the main way these devices work is by sending impulses.
These have changed a lot during the years, the very first signals were made by smoke signals or flashes of light by reflecting the sun. Most commonly known today is cable, television, radio, telephone and in the past also telegraph. Some of these are one way only like the television and radio but today telephony has made it quite easier to talk to someone. As for helping a lot in the modern world telecommunications has also alienated some people because of the fact that not everyone can afford or be able to have this type of commodity. In 3rd world countries people wouldn't even know if there is a war in their own country because they have no way of knowing. Still in advanced countries it has been a great help, telecommunications have changed them so much. In the past people had to write letters or go visit people living abroad which would mean if something urgent needed to be discussed at least one week had to be waited out until the message arrives one way or another. One of the most important devices which have changed literarily the way we live is the mobile phone, today it has changed from just a simple telephony device to a multi use portable computer which lets you control the entire world you live in from just your hand. What helped the mobile phone become so multi purpose is the biggest network ever created which is still growing, it is of course the internet. Even though 90% of the internet is junk with that 10% left you can check bank accounts, send messages, call people abroad, work and even buy your weekly groceries and be sent directly to your house. Whilst that was on a huge scale, world wide actually, if we go much smaller in terms of companies telecommunications have help as well. Records and logs can be kept on a server which can be accessed through a local area network which is perfectly safe because it is isolated from the internet and outside access. Like this companies can avoid employing some five workers to maintain a well organized database of files, instead just one worker will be employed as an administrator which takes care of the server and makes sure it works perfectly and does frequent maintenance and the other four workers will be employed in the production of more goods which will lead to more profit. The disadvantage of this is the thing that all the information is localized into one place on a server and if it fails or an accident happens it could ruin a company. This leads to well trained people in the ICT area that maintain these kinds of systems and make sure there are no faults in the system or network. With these technologies implemented in companies workers can actually work from home and avoid the problems of traveling where countries are too big or there is too much traffic. Like this people can enjoy their family more and have more quality time with their family. On the other hand it was the society its self that triggered many of the advancements in technology. The internet got faster because of the way people started to use it, mobile phones advanced because people wanted portability in everything and so on. What also helped telecommunications advance where computer systems.
These are computerized units with software associated to them. Generally these systems share memory, execute user written commands and manipulates data. Modern computers have existed for a very short time. The first computers were all mechanical, and used to do only simple mathematical calculations because their programming was all made manually. Some used punched tape or punched cards, when technology progressed some used vacuum tubes which stored the commands in them. The first computers that stared to make some success were those based on the Von Neumann architecture.
Today most of the computers are based on the Von Neumann architecture. Computer systems have changed the way we relate to data, organization has also changed and they have also lead to many outlets of information spread around countries that has made the modern society more open minded. Electronics have come a long way since the times of the first computers. The real break through of computer systems came when the integrated circuit was invented, it gave these systems a whole new level set of limits.
With vacuum tubes there was a big problem because of their bulkiness but ICs are very small. This brought about the miniaturization of electronics and computers. Here is when the world really got smaller, this is when mobile phones became a possibility and when the electronic industry became very success full. These devices became affordable by the common person and were even being implemented into other devices for multi purpose use. Today chips are being put in virtually anything, even a running shoes has got a chip in it which is programmed to tell you what speed you were going at, heart beat and if you were placing your feet right. With these advanced circuits loads of common actions and things people used to do in the past or even just ignore have now become normal to do, like phoning a person from anywhere you might find your self. This has lead to people being more aware of their surroundings and controlling more their lives easier. The bad thing is that sometimes people really too much on technology and when ever the electricity fails no one knows what to do, the world just stops and waits until damage is repaired. With computers you have the world at your finger tips and many people spend entire days in front of the computer just staring at the monitor. This is very unhealthy, and part of the problem causing obesity is technology itself. Moore's law has predicted this future from when the first ICs started to appear. It states that every 24 months the amount of transistors and performance of electronic devices will double. This law was true for some time but after a while the advances were so big that the graph went exponential. Today it has slowed down a little because we have almost reached the peak of our current technology.
The future of computer systems is going to nanotechnology. This technology is molecular based, which means central processing units and ICs known today will shrink to molecular level. Also quantum computing is being considered, this is when the data stored is no longer stored in bits but stored in qubits. These qubits can have a number of different states like 0 and 1 at the same time. It is a technology which is still in its infancy but it might someday be the break though which even makes nanotechnology absolute. The future and how the society will be is very strange, probably when we get old we won't even recognize it. If you think about it our grand parents living today would not have even dreamt of having these technologies around them. That is why sometimes there are problems even between parents and children, because of this generation gap.
The other problem which electronics are causing is the amount of consumption of electricity. It has increased immensely in the past few years and power stations had to increase causing more pollution around the world.
This has made some people aware of the damage being done and a more environmentally friendly generation is being taught on how to treat the world with respect. Several countries have taken the initiative to try and most of their power generation is shifted towards renewable sources like wind, rain, solar, tidal, geothermal and hydroelectric dams. These are all good ways of having clean energy but the problem is that none of these are sufficient to completely switch to using them. So a treaty was signed between Europe and Japan to start a well funded research facility in France to research fusion power generation. It is the cleanest most powerful source of energy possible. For an example we can see the biggest power station we got in the solar system, it is the Sun. The Sun is natural fusion it is self sustained and the amounts of energy released are phenomenal. With 10kg of deuterium you will get the equivalent of 10 000 tonnes of coal of energy. Deuterium is the fuel for fusion, it is an isotope of hydrogen, which means the number of neutrons contained in the nucleus of the atom is bigger. Governments are investing a lot in this technology because if it is a success it would change the way we live. People are very hopeful about this but before commercial energy will be supplied the reactor needs at least 50 yrs more research. This is because of the extreme conditions it will be exposed to, to start the reaction 100 million degrees Celsius must be reach so that hydrogen atoms would not just bounce around but actually fuse and the materials inside the reactor must be capable of resisting a content bombardment of neutrons from the reaction. The big advantage of this reactor is that it is very safe, the reaction is self sustained and if an accident occurs the amount of fuel present will be too little to cause a real amount of damage.
On another level of ICT we have got software programming. Programs in the beginning were very simple, they were used to do very simple calculations. The first programming language was called machine language and it consisted of 0s and 1s. The programmers had to directly communicate with the machine its self and this kind of programming is very complex and a human being could not go the extent of making complex programs for complex calculations. So because of this problem programmers tried to simplify a bit life and changed the machine code into assembly language. This is the same language only translated into words like ADD or MOVE. These words were then translated back to machine code by programs called assemblers. This made programming a bit more user friendly but it still was not that easy to program complex programs. So in the end they invented what is known as the HLL or High Level Language, with this programmers actually write in almost normal language style. Words almost like English which can be even read and you can understand the program. After a program is written in HLL a compiler converts it to machine language so that the commands can be executed. With these languages the programs known today could be created. The problem of complex programming was solved even though it was still difficult. For graphics the programming required is extremely difficult to write so recently they have been writing programs which actually write the graphic program them selves. Like this fantastic graphics can be created. Programmers have also started developing AI or Artificial Intelligence, these are programs that mimic human actions and could lead to the development of advanced robots which could help us in every day living. Here is where programming gets really into out life, if programmers are success full in creating a sufficiently intelligent robot it could help us during our everyday lives, robots could clean homes and cooks. If someone has got a disability a robot could be bought to help him about, but all that is the future that robot designers are looking forward to. Today programs help us mostly on our personal computer systems, actually programs help us more than you might expect they do. Our mobile phones have got really useful programs, the ATM at the bank too, our personal computers have an unlimited supply of handy programs and even in the smallest things around the house there are programs, like your watch, washing machine and even sometimes remote controls of televisions. Some things that our grandparents used to do manually have become automated. Apart from making our lives easier these programs have also created new jobs, these kinds of programs are always needed and programmers right now are always asked for. They have also been a very good business industry, like Microsoft they have become a billion dollar industry from just software apart from other things they produce.
The production, distribution, consumption, and exchange of goods are called the economy. Economy has been with is since the first humans started living in very small tribes. It used to be based on exchanging food and water with goods like precious metals and sometimes even fire. After some time people discovered that if animals and vegetables are domesticated instead of going hunting for them it would make things run more efficiently. This lead to better lives and the standard of living started going up. This way leisure time increased and people could spend their time teaching, learning new skills clothing, researching and advancing their technology which lead to faster technology advances. At about 1700 A.D. the modern era of technology started, farmers started using scientifically proven chemicals and invented devices so that production increased drastically. Businesses started opening specifically for the production of a certain product and people specialized in certain areas. Cities started to grow a lot and in time the economy started to be divided into three stages, primary, secondary and tertiary. Today the economy has not changed much from those days, the small changes where the products produced because a variety of new products were invented. The real big difference that divides older economies with today's economy is the way the economy is handled, ICT has infiltrated here too. Deals are made through the internet and this enables a faster economy which needs to keep up with today's busy world. As ICT is helping so much the economy, vice versa the economy is helping the industry of ICT by investing large amounts of money in it. Like this ICT is growing at a very high rate too, this is introducing new jobs and more courses are opening at universities designed for a modern world controlled through computer technology.
This leads to the most important organization in every country, it is of course the government. It is the ruling power in a society, with out it probably most countries would go into total anarchy. There are many types of governments, like Monarchy, Despotism, Dictatorship, Oligarchy, Plutocracy, Democracy and Theocracy. The modern countries are mostly controlled by a democratic government. It is an indirect democracy because these days it is impossible to practice direct democracy. This is because there are too many people and so people vote for that group of people which will represent them in the parliament. Even with this setback of too many people for direct democracy sometimes it is still practice when important decisions need to be taken, like when Malta had to decide if we should join the European union or not. The government makes that the basic things a civilization needs is working and up to date, like military defense, economic security, social security and environmental security. Everyone know what military defenses are, a country must be able to defend it self against enemy, sometimes the army is needed to keep control of the very same country it should be defending. Economic security, money must be controlled or there might be an overflow of money going out of the country instead of coming in and may lead to an insufficient amount of money in the country. This can cause unemployment and loss of profit. Some time ago parents used to make sure that they have a lot of children so that when they grow up the children take care of the parents but today a different approach is taken, parents have mostly 2 or 3 children and when they get old the government takes care of the old. This is called social security and today many people really on it because the government is seen as a friend which can help you when in need and at the same time keep equilibrium in the country. For a healthy country environmental security must be offered because if the people are unhappy they will blame the government. So to keep things balanced and the people happy the government makes sure there is a clean environment for people to live in and applies new technologies for cleaner and renewable fuel sources. The government also finds new opportunities for people to take, lately the Maltese government is concentrating mostly on ICT like with the recent contract that has been discussed over with Dubai about the smart city. This has opened new courses in universities and other educational facilities so that when this project opens the jobs created will have workers to start their careers there.
Education is the teaching and learning of anything at any age. It is divided into four types mainly, primary, secondary, higher and adult education. Primary and secondary education is compulsory. Not every continues into higher and adult educational levels. In the higher educational level which is sometimes called tertiary too, is usually situated in a university or campus where people will learn during lectures. Tertiary education is what prepares students for the economical world and so it is very important. Sometimes this type of education offers first hand experience like the adult level, adult education is studied at home and it's a very long course which could last all you life. Technology has infiltrated into every part of our lives and technology has done its part in education too. This has happened because everyone uses long distance communications like computers and mobile phones and so online education was born. Like this students can learn virtually everything because the world is at hand from just a monitor and can decide what time to have the lectures too so like this his or her plans will not be disturbed. Apart from administration technology is used to teach directly to children, like power point presentations and interactive whiteboards. Tests could also be taken in a similar way, which would give you your result immediately. With ICT there is a huge set of tools which can be used on this line, internet computers and broadcasting technologies are the best tools ever invented for such education. The television and radio have been used multiple times for learning but the internet is just perfect because of the two way communication with your tutor if there is one. Still even though it is a great way of teaching it is still in its infancy in developing countries and printed education is more feasible than this because computers are still something new for them and not everyone is able to afford a computer system. Computer assisted learning is helping people learn from awkward places or because someone can not attend to school for some reason. This is done by actually having a direct link with the classroom and listening to the lesson trough the internet, questions could also be asked by means of a microphone and speakers. The way the next generation of children will be learning is going to be very different from ours.
Social behavior has changed a lot from when our parents were young. Technology has done loads of good things for the new generations but sometimes people just seam to live in different world completely because they would be so immersed into their computers or mobile phones. Another strange effect happens when people meet for the first time on the internet, when they decide to meet up face to face the situation might sometimes be awkward because both of them might be expecting something different from what they encounter but on the other hand socialization has become very easy and cheap because of these instant messaging programs. When meeting up with some one it is much easier to plan because a message or phone call is all it takes. Another strange thing I noticed is that those conversations that used to happen on the bus on my school has ended because of these mp3 players mainly, if you look around you half the people on the bus would be doing something like checking messages on their mobile phones or listening to music. All this technology as mentioned above has brought with it a huge increase in educational levels of developed countries. This is creating a new generation which will be hopefully more intelligent but from my point of view I think they would not be prepared for life as the previous generations because at the end of the day the most important deals are made face to face and because of all this technology for communications it is leaving the face to face conversation prematurely undeveloped. This is what I see from every day life but it could also be a temporary problem because of the extreme changes happening in the world around us. My parents are amazed by how the world has changed from their times, who would have believed that everyone would have a mobile phone and be able to phone anywhere. Truly the internet was first created for military uses but now it serves as the biggest resource of information you could ever have, you can find practically anything on it and find anyone too. Not long ago the Maltese government launched an online directory where you can find anyone you need. If computers become more common it could mean a more environmentally friendly world because some books will become unnecessary, like directories or the yellow pages. Whole would be both as softcopies on CDs or most recently pen drives. Simply this brings us to the conclusion that the world has become metaphorically very small, you can talk to someone half way around the world as if he lives round the corner and all this because of Information and Communication Technologies.