Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our Children's World Is Magical

(This post, originally published at www.dadomatic.com, was inspired by my recent trip to Intel's Santa Clara Headquarters for their annual "Upgrade Your Life" Experience...)

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic..." - Arthur C. Clarke
Of all the wonderful words that Clarke wrote, few have been as powerful and prescient as his frequently cited statement above. He was right.  More than right, he has defined the world we live in today, and more importantly, the world our children will carry forward. It is truly a magical world.

The Magic

In our lifetimes we have seen technology advance well beyond "sufficient," to provide us with tools and capabilities that are so indistinguishable from magic we already take them for granted. You wouldn't think twice about standing on a street in NY and speaking to your friend while they are on a boat off the coast of France...yet that is magic.  We take for granted that we can sit on the couch with a laptop or tablet and watch a movie sent to the device without wires or discs... yet that is magic.  Having near instant access to the answer to nearly any question imaginable, from a mobile device you carry in your pocket... is magic. Getting off a plane at crowded airport and getting a notification that a friend you haven't seen in person in years is also in the same terminal building, so you get to hang out together for ten awesome minutes... is magic.  I could go on and on.

The Magicians

Unlike the magic of wizards and sorcerers, the magic of technology cannot simply be invoked with incantations and chants of "abracadabra."  The magic of technology is created by a different type of magician - the engineers, scientists, visionaries and entrepreneurs who can not only envision the magic but who can also figure out ways to build it.  Today's magic comes from people and companies who have leveraged brainpower, innovation and imagination to make the impossible possible.  Chief among these modern day magicians is Intel. As an Intel Advisor I've had the privilege of taking a peek inside Intel and meeting many of the brains behind the magic and the wizards behind the curtains of innovations that have changed our lives and will change the lives of our children.

It's The Process, Not Just The Processor

What makes technology become magic is what it empowers us to do.  As amazing as it is to acknowledge the advancements and engineering prowess it has taken to facilitate the evolution of the microprocessor (following Moore's Law and decreasing in size while increasing in power and efficiency by silicon leaps and bounds), the true amazement is not in the chips, but rather in what the chips enable us to do.  Intel employs scientists, researchers, anthropologists, sociologists, even futurists, to study human behavior to better understand where the true power of the microprocessor can be put to work. In one day on the Intel campus for the Upgrade Your Life event we saw firsthand how technology is changing healthcare, education and the care of our environment.  We saw how technology is facilitating independent living for a rapidly growing population of seniors.  Magical things like placing sensors in chairs to wirelessly alert the wife of an Alzheimer's patient when her husband, known to wander off, gets up from his favorite chair, so she can come home from next door and make sure he is ok.  By using technology to place shift and skill shift aspects of healthcare, many of the services provided today by institutions can potentially be moved to the home, which for many could diminish the need for a nursing home.  The possibilities are endless, and the advancements are desperately needed as cost effective, and more importantly - effective healthcare is critical for an aging population.  We live longer, and the magic of technology may enable us to live better too.

Unleashing Human Potential

The talented artist Hugh MacLeod was hired by Intel to create some of his inspiring cartoons at the CES Show in January and he leveraged the phrase "The processor is an expression of human potential," which succinctly and sincerely captures the essence of the magic of technology.  While I don't mean for this to come off as just a puff piece for Intel, I do mean to use Intel as an example of one of the many companies that really are creating magic that will likely benefit our children in ways we can only begin to imagine.  Think of the world you lived in when you were the age your children are today.  How many of the things your children now take for granted would have seemed like magic to you back then?  I grew up in a world before there was a computer on every desk (and now in every pocket.)  My kids know no other world.  What is magic to me, is ordinary to them.

I can't wait to see the advancements that my kids won't be able to distinguish from magic!  Can you?

Disclosure: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf.  Intel covered my travel, accommodations and expenses for my trip to Santa Clara for the Upgrade Your Life event. 

Photo Credit: © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com
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