Technological Revolutions: Advantages & Disadvantages

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  • 0:01 Technological Revolutions
  • 0:35 Digital Revolution
  • 2:05 Nanotechnology
  • 3:20 The Internet
  • 5:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we explore a few of the technological innovations that have helped create the 21st-century world and will likely change our world throughout the century.

Technological Revolutions

It wasn't all that long ago - about 10-12 generations - that the average Englishman was born, lived, worked, and died all within a 10-mile radius. Today, we have cars, planes, and trains, which allow the average person to travel that distance in only a few minutes. Indeed, technology in the past couple hundred years since the Industrial Revolution has traveled in leaps and bounds. In this lesson, we'll discuss just a few of the technological innovations already made or currently being made in the 21st century, which no doubt will change our lives in exciting and unexpected ways.

Digital Revolution

Though the digital revolution has been under way for roughly 30-50 years already, some of its ramifications are just being felt. The essence of the digital revolution is computers, such as the one on your desk, on your lap, or even in your pocket, which allow information to be stored digitally on microchips. The digital revolution has replaced many other forms of storage and filing systems; gone, for example, are the rolodexes from libraries, or the numerous filing cabinets, which used to populate every office or home. Instead, hundreds, if not thousands, of documents can now be stored on a microchip smaller than a grape.

More than just storing information, the digitizing of everything - from media, to phones, to television broadcasts - has changed our lives in unexpected ways and will likely continue to do so. For example, the creation of high-definition television digitized the signal in which most television stations broadcast. The resulting picture was far clearer and crisper than the previous, analog signals.

While this has been a joy for many television enthusiasts, especially sports fans, who can now view live events in definition nearly as crisp as real life, it has also presented a conundrum for some businesses. For example, owners of sports teams have had to find new ways to attract fans to their stadiums - fans who can just as easily watch the game in high definition from the comfort of their own home. This is just one example of the many ways that the digital revolution is making some of our lives easier and better, while at the same time presenting new challenges for others.

Nanotechnology

One of the reasons the digital revolution has progressed so far so fast is the new and evolving field of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology refers to the creation of artificial structures at the smallest sizes possible - at times even down to the atomic or molecular levels! Like the digital revolution, nanotechnology is beginning to touch every aspect of our lives. Indeed, the two trends are working in concert: advances in nanotechnology are allowing digital code to be written on smaller and smaller surfaces, causing computing power and storage space to grow exponentially in recent years.

Nanotechnology, however, extends into far more realms than just information technology. In the coming years, some have their hopes pinned on nanotechnology to help solve many of the world's issues. For example, recent advances in nanotechnology have allowed scientists to create solar fuel cells that are both smaller and five times more effective than current silicon-based cells. Additionally, entirely new and quickly progressing fields, like nanorobotics, hope to create microscopic machines, which can build consumer goods, be used in complicated surgeries, and even self-replicate themselves if given the correct materials!

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