Emerging technologies are, by simple definition, the advances that have occurred with time in the contemporary world of technology. (Hung, D & Khine, M. S, 2006, p 459) The term refers to new developments that have been made as a result of research over the years. The world of technology is a dynamic one with scientists and technicians coming up with high-tech gadgets by the day. This has not always been the case. Technology has come a long way off. From the time of the dark ages where the only form of data storage was the primitive human mind, not to mention the ancient writings preserved in stone.
The shortcomings of these methods of storage called for better ways of data preservation hence the discovery of paper and later secret safes that were used to store classified information. Decades later, the world enjoys an unlimited number of technological options to choose from. Modern technology, too, has continued to grow in leaps and bounds with incremental and disruptive developments being made daily. Total development is whereby growth in one sector is to improve on a previous development that had already been made. (Kendall, K E, 1999, pp32-46)
These inventions come in with highly sophisticated and efficient apparatus. Machines that more than double human output this means that production is taken to a higher level; thus, the supply to consumers is made easier and available thanks to these inventions. A good example can be drawn from the development of play stations, which was a follow up of the traditional brick games. Other examples of incremental development are the use of tractors in agriculture as an improvement on the conventional hoe used to plow, use of modern processing, and storage facilities instead of the previous versions of the same, and the use of electric trains is also an improvement on the locomotive.
On the other hand, disruptive development is whereby a new development completely overshadows a previous development rendering it null and void. An example of disruptive technology is the substitution of typewriters with computers, the use of mobile telephones instead of landlines, motor vehicles instead of the one-wheeled wheel, to mention but a few. This growth has been attributed to the convergence of existing technology (Kendall, K E, 1999, p 212). Modern technology has converged together for a common goal. This can be explained by equating technology to an abstract entity.
The entity slowly moves towards other things in the same field with similar goals. In the end, they form one oversized item that is more efficient. This simple yet complex technological advancement is the reason why today, we can easily access the audio, video, and even application data more efficiently than before. This convergence of technology has been made possible by massive funds that have been channeled into research by both private and commercial developers. The result is that the new development from this emergence is more progressive and has a competitive advantage over the redundant ones.
There have been several emerging technologies in various fields ranging from information technology to medicine, agriculture, robotics, and even biotechnology. Emerging technologies in the field of medicine include new surgical equipment and procedures and the development of new drugs to combat emerging diseases. Growth in the field of medicine has seen the mastery of new techniques such as artificial insemination and the use of test-tube babies, a fete that was once thought impossible. Furthermore, vaccines against diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, and even HIV/AIDS have been developed.
Doctors are now able to treat and sometimes cure diseases like cancer, which were previously unmanageable. This has consequently improved the life expectancy in the country. Child mortality rates have also decreased significantly (Hung, D & Khine, M. S., 2006, p 567). In the fields of agriculture, emerging technology such as genetic engineering has made food production cheaper and huge, leading to food security in many countries. There has been the development of hybrid seeds that are highly resistant to diseases and extreme weather conditions such as drought. This means that some crops will grow in arid lands where before no crop would have survived.
Furthermore, to counter the effects of climate change, seeds that grow fast have been invented. These crops flourish in short rains and thus feeding the masses. This has gone a long way in eliminating famine, especially in developing countries (Hung, D & Khine, M. S., 2006, pp498-507).
Lands that were once not fertile have become rich for agricultural production. Some places have been turned from semi-deserts to productive lands. Swampy areas have been drained and then used for agriculture. Soils have been made richer and more productive thanks to emerging agricultural technologies. More so, harvesting equipment, processors, and even packaging and transportation have significantly advanced. Long gone are the days when food used to go bad as it was being transported in Lorries. The transport Lorries have been fitted with coolers and freezes to ensure the long life of perishable goods. (Hung, D & Khine, M. S, 2006, p 560)
Artificial intelligence is one field that has been improved by emerging technologies. With the help of the internet, it is possible to get intelligence from any corner of the world. The use of search engines such as Google has made information that was once inaccessible, available at the click of a button. In today’s world, where data is power, Google has just come right in time. Today, since the world has become a global village, people are in a position to learn about other societies, their culture, religion, and economic state, thanks to Google.
Social networks are another form of technology that has marked the advancement in technology. These social networks, such as MySpace, Twitter, and Face book among many, have enabled socialization at the global front where a person can easily interact with different people from across the divide ( Ford, Martin R, 2009, p400). Robotics has greatly advanced due to the development of new technology. Emerging technology has made man rely more and more on machines to make work easy for him. Robotics is no longer a strange term to many like institutions, corporate and even private firms rush to tap into robotics.
Machines are slowly replacing human beings in doing the majority of the tasks since they are faster and have an almost zero-error margin. They are thorough in their work and do not tire like human beings; hence scientists are working hard continuously to improve on the existing technology to create even better. Another area that has seen a ‘spur of the moment’ technological growth is the internet. Since its introduction in the nineties, the internet has rapidly revolutionized technology and how we view it. This impact has not been felt in the world only. The revolutionary medium, which is the internet in this case, has also been revolutionized. The world has come from the time when the only way you could access information from the internet was to download it and store it on a hard disk. The word ‘cloud’ has become a household name for everyone who considers himself or herself as belonging to the age of computers. (Ford, Martin R, 2009, pp1002-1005)
Cloud technology is an emerging technology that has made things more easy and exciting. The pioneers of the technology have been able to take advantage of the existing technology to come up with an upgrade of the same. Hence, cloud technology is an example of incremental technology.
The term ‘Cloud’ is used as a direct reference or rather a representation of the complex network of connections that form the internet. Information is stored in this complex web of connections- cloud and is then transmitted to internet users across the globe. This is known as cloud computing. Examples of cloud computing technology are the now-standard social networks, personal data services, and back up services. Storage of information or data in the cloud so that other users can access it is a technology that has been adapted and improved upon by significant players in the industry.
From this technology emerged an even more sophisticated development, known as streaming. Streaming involves transferring data from the server to a host in one continuous stream. This relatively depends on the capacity of the user’s computer device to store the data being streamed. Also, streaming required the use of buffers that slowed the process even more. This explains the delays experienced when one tries to stream live video or music from a public network ( Ford, Martin R, 2009, p887).
Streaming became an essential feature in the internet sector in the late nineties and early two-thousands. Before that, live streaming had not been possible, first, because of the expenses involved and second because computers at the time did not have very high-performance abilities like they do today. With time, however, the concept of streaming became possible. This was because the majority of the population begun accessing and even own computers. With the majority of people familiarizing themselves with computer technology, the internet became a commercialized venture.
It was, therefore, important that the internet business is improved for maximum benefits to be reaped from it. The network bandwidth was expanded, and new measures such as the use of standard formats like the HTTP and TCML were introduced. A lot of people began accessing the internet. The internet became a booming business. The first media to be streamed live on the internet was the performance of the band ‘Severe Tire Damage.’ Viewers from as far as Australia were able to watch the performance live on the internet. From then on, football matches, baseball games, movies, and even television programs have been streamed from the internet.
A media stream can either be live or be accessible on demand. In live streaming, also called reliable streaming, content is sent directly to the user’s computer without it being saved in any hard disk. Streaming on-demand, also called progressive streaming, means that the information is first stored in a hard disk where it can be retrieved when a user needs it. This has an advantage since one can get the stream even when the live event has ended. Using emergent technologies, information from the cloud could now be streamed live into devices with internet connectivity. This is known as cloud streaming. The videos are compressed and then poured into an individual’s smartphone or Personal computer ( Ford, Martin R, 2009, p998)
Cloud streaming relies on the interconnectivity of the internet to always present data to an end-user in real-time. The difference between the traditional download system and cloud streaming is that with the latter, the browser can receive data as it is still being processed. Live television is an example of streaming, the same as internet television. Other kinds of media can be streamed other than the audio and visuals. The streamed media is seen to be more accessible hence reliable.
Cloud Streaming has gained popularity since the introduction of mobile phones such as smartphones and other devices such as tablets that can support such formats. Streaming media has played a significant role in education, entertainment, and business marketing, respectively. The use of cloud streaming technology has hence improved the above sectors greatly. In the world today, you cannot talk of either field without mentioning streaming media. It is in this light that almost all activities in a society heavily rely on streaming platforms.
The entertainment industry has one of the biggest beneficiaries of streaming media. Today, different programs across the globe are strictly run on streaming platforms. Indeed most popular movies have also seen the light of day thanks to the streaming media. For instance, when one misses an episode of his/her favorite show, the streaming media is there to fix the problem since this program is readily available online.
Moreover, many people can upload homemade videos using streaming channels such as youtube. This is because, for one, almost the entire population in the urban sectors has internet connectivity either at home, in schools, or at their workplaces. This ability to upload information to any audience makes cloud streaming more appealing, accounting for the high demand growth by the day.
What is more appealing is the statistics which point out the fact that a considerable percentage of viewers enjoy watching their favorite shows on their personal computers. This number is increasing by the day with the United States recording 2% online video stream viewers per program (Hung, D & Khine, M. S., 2006, p230). This is made possible because the pay is reasonable and affordable to many people. The music industry has also benefited from media streaming. Many musicians have earned fame from this technology. This technology, especially on youtube, has enabled people from different societies to view and support their artists even without their physical appearances.
Upcoming artists who are little known to the societies are known to have jumped to Superdome overnight. This was due to the simple reason that they were able to record themselves using simple recording devices and to upload the clips to a streaming site like youtube. With the internet having large viewership and the technology of cloud streaming, these people became exposed, and in the end, they reaped mightily from the same. However, cloud streaming has had its pros and cons, as I will describe below.
Some of the significant advantages of cloud streaming include the fact that one can stream their music from anywhere at any time. This is to say that through cloud streaming, one has twenty-four-hour access to his favorite music. This has gone down well with music lovers all over the world, as so long as one has a Smartphone, then they will have their music wherever they go. The economic bit of streaming is another incentive for users of streaming media. It costs almost half or less of the money one could have used to purchase a CD on streaming platforms. This has popularized the streaming media, making it a favorite for many people, especially the young generation, which makes up the vast percentage of streaming media consumers.
The other major doing by cloud streaming is the issue of backup. Cloud streaming has heavily relied on massive data storage centers with redundant servers and data synced to multiple locations. Thus personal data is safe from corruption and loss. This is unlike the former storage spaces such as RAM or even the compact disc that were susceptible to destruction or even theft. Again through cloud streaming, one piece of art can be shared by millions, unlike a single hardcopy that is only available to a single person. This hence makes communication and exchange of views and ideas a reality in this dynamic global village where everybody’s point of view matters (Hung, D & Khine, M. S., 2006,pp500-510)
Today, many research findings have been able to see the light of day thanks to cloud streaming technology. Data from any part of the world can be sent and received very easily to one’s PC or phone. This is done without having to set up complicated gadgets to capture, store, and transmit the media form. This means that the research findings like opinion polls and other data gathering polls can be publicized faster and to a larger group of people. The information can be streamed instead of calling for board meetings or media conferences to relay the same information. Thus, cloud streaming can be said to be the technology of the moment for the moment.
Cloud streaming does not go without some hiccups. Thus it calls for a second thought before investing all our energies in this technology. One of the significant drawbacks to streaming is the fact that, without the cloud, that is the internet, there is minimal or no access at all to the information. This means that one has to have the internet to use cloud streaming. Hence this locks out a considerable number of people who have no internet connection (Hung, D & Khine, M. S, 2006 p45). The issue of caps is another hindrance to cloud streaming. For example, Amazon has a limit on the number of devices that can access their music. That is, if your device crosses the cap threshold for Amazon, you might not be in a position to access your music online. This is unlike the use of compact disks that can be used and played using any PC without discrimination.
Storage cost is another problem associated with cloud streaming. This is because one has to pay for data storage that exceeds the free storage space. Many organizations come with 5GB free storage to win clients. However, after using up the free hand out, one is required to pay for storage in packages at an agreed price. This may discourage users, especially those who have the hard disk knowledge, which is known to store data in terabytes; thus, they may choose to keep their data other than pay for storage. Young generation users especially shy away from anything that demands money since most of them are unemployed and have limited monetary access.
The rules and regulations are another major con to cloud streaming technology. This is seen especially when the service providers bend laws to suit themselves. Moreover, due to the issue of contracts, one’s contract may expire, and if they may have contravened the existing rules and regulations, their contract may not be renewed. This means that all the stored data will no longer work. Thus one may have to start all over again, which may be tedious and discouraging in away. This hence pushes away some people who may be interested in cloud technology. Business people are interested in a technology that has minimum risk and that which will not cost them heavily at the end of the day.
The rise of cloud streaming has brought with it good tidings to the business arena. Cloud streaming has been used by many business owners to market their products online. Through consumer education, people learn about new products, question their credibility, and use it if it services their immediate needs. This marketing of products online has seen the rise to maturity of many companies and businesses. A good example is the renowned advertising giant Media Vest, which has been pulling great profits thanks to cloud streaming. The company realized that most people were slowly moving away from television and slowly relying more on the internet.Moreover, companies have invested heavily in video conferencing, which consolidates considerable returns to their organizations. The companies are embracing this new technology because they are assured of maximum returns. Every company that knows better has invested in this technology (Kendall, K E, 1999, p 78).
Indeed small businesses have also gained big-time thanks to cloud streaming. For example, a person may post his business idea on the internet; then, if a company is interested in his or her venture, they may upload the video and give life to it. This hence builds careers and dreams to people who could have never been known to the world. On the flip side, cloud streaming may be detrimental to the world of business. There have been reported cases of copy-pasting business ideas. This has been done by dubious individuals who upload people’s projects, work on them, and own them without even compensating the real innovators’.
This has, to some extent, made people drift away from sharing information as many people fear their ideas may end up being corrupted or that their images may end up in the hands of the wrong people (Kendall, K E, 1999, p67). Cloud music and video streaming have also been a significant contributor to piracy. Individuals who are aware of the loopholes in the law take advantage of this technology to enrich them. People no longer want to pay for genuine music and instead opt to go for the pirated pieces. This is because the pirated papers go for abnormally low prices.
Illegal business people take advantage of this easy technique to get cheap music, videos, or any other kind of information. They, in turn, burn it into compact discs and sell them to customers. Worse case is where these discs are sold to unsuspecting consumers since they can easily pass for genuine. This is a typical scenario of reaping where you did not sow. This person will make a considerable profit, which is illegal; this may also prompt more people to venture in the same due to the enormous returns. This negatively impacts business since they raised money and do not end up benefiting the producers else; the money ends up in the predator’s hands.
Cloud streaming has also had a significant role in the advancement of education. Education has become easy and readily available. It is no longer much of a problem to get information from any part of the globe. In the words of others, the world has become a global village. Cloud technology has made it possible for lectures, research, and online educational discussions to be streamed live or even on-demand. This accomplishment has dramatically benefited the education sector. It has opened up avenues that many students could otherwise not have reached.
What makes the technology even more effective is the efficiency at which you get your data. There are no annoying disconnections in between as one tries to stream a discussion into their phone or unnecessary delays. This has made long-distance learning easier as the learners rely heavily on the internet for their study. Cloud technology has undoubtedly made their learning fun. In higher learning institutions like the Ivy League colleges, where this technology has already been adapted, lectures have been conducted real-time to different audiences across the divide. This has many advantages, first and foremost, because it is cost-effective. A visiting lecturer is not required to fly across continents to deliver a lecture. Instead, the students can get the lesson from wherever the lecturer is ( Kendall, K E, 1999, p789)
This emerging technology has made it possible for a considerable number of students to learn in the comfort of their rooms. This is also known as video conferencing a phenomenon breathed to life by cloud streaming. Better still, the student can access this information at any given time and wherever they are. Some more advanced schools can stream information on different subjects to less-developed schools, especially those located in remote areas. Cloud streaming has enabled such students to benefit from the informed urban world. This allows the less fortunate learner to learn with the best. This solves many problems associated with rural naivety.
The above is possible because the minimum threshold of the internet needed to access streaming is readily available to many rural areas. However, those areas that are totally out of internet connections may not reap from this technology. This presents a considerable drawback to the technology of cloud streaming, where data transfer is meant to reach as many consumers as possible. Emerging technologies like the one discussed above are set to make the world a different place. Many people, if asked to project what the world will be like in the next one hundred years, will cite technological growth as one of the things that will have advanced to unfathomable heights.
The irony of the matter is that this technological growth is already here with us. Time will only make things better or worse. According to Joy Bill, a renowned computer scientist, technology can be used for either good or evil (Joy.B, 2000, pp598-698). That, if humans will be given the green light to use technology without ethical considerations, then they might end up destroying the world. Consider a fact like the recent problem of global warming. This problem can squarely be blamed on emerging technology such as nuclear energy generation and industrialization which leads to the production of greenhouse gases (Hung, D & Khine, M. S., 2006, p6009)
Information technology has made it possible to generate information on nuclear technology. Again we recall the number of lives lost in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the devastating effects of nuclear technology. These are effects being felt up to the present moment. On the other hand, we cannot blind ourselves to the fact that technology has had better outcomes. There have been events that have changed the world. Various attempts by technology have positively contributed to an improved lifestyle.
A good example is the test-tube baby technology. I imagine the childless couples that have been able to get children because of technology. Indeed here we can only applaud the marvels done to humans thanks to technological advancement.Martin Ford criticizes technology, saying that it is a significant cause of unemployment. This assertion is also true going by the number of retrenchments in companies and organizations. Those who offer manual labor in the agricultural sector are the hardest hit as human labor is gradually defaced by machinery.
In Nick Bostrom’s view, a transhumanist philosopher, even the skilled personnel are in danger of being phased out by technology. He suggests that at one time, humans will cease to be existent. Hence he says that existential technology risks to humanity. That, every aspect of society will one day be controlled by machinery (Bostrom, N, 2002, p 97). Looking at this problem from a critical point of view, we find that technology will only benefit business owners. This will further deteriorate the already ailing unemployment sector. This problem will create a rift between the haves and the haves not. Thus as we embrace technology, we need to give it a human face and a critical mind.
Other critics of emerging technologies fault technology as lacking inequality. That some people have access to emerging technology and reap maximum benefits while others lag, this according to human rights interest groups, is not fair since everyone deserves a level ground to play on. The above may be dismissed on logical grounds, but if given the consideration, it holds water. A case in point is the developing countries where the technological effects are yet to be realized. In the future, these countries will be inconsequential to development since their output cannot counter that of developed worlds where technology is at all-time highs. Thus technology needs to be implemented in a multidimensional approach where all humanity is taken into consideration regardless of the economic-social background ( Bostrom, N, 2002,p 67 ). The advocates of technology like Ray Kurzweil, a techno-utopian, suggest that technology will reduce and ultimately eliminate poverty. He insists that if people were to take advantage of the many opportunities that advanced technology presents, then they would reap good returns from it. Ray Kurzweil says that technology can be used to abolish human suffering (Kurzweil, R, 2005, p387)
A factor such as the transfer of information is now as easy as it could ever be. With the cloud streaming exchange of data has been made real. This calls for us to appreciate the technology since very many lives have been saved thanks to it. A good example is where doctors seek advice from other doctors in the Diaspora, especially during surgery. Today successful heart transplant has taken place; there has been ample food supply, mass production of goods and services. All of this can be attributed to Information Technology advancement. This is to say that we cannot isolate technology and dream of promotion. (Bostrom, N, 2002, p589 )
We can not isolate technological innovation in today’s world, because it is the world’s main driver of growth today. Upgrading from all aspects of existence is dependent, without a doubt, on technological advancement. For this reason it is necessary to embrace technological advancement with an open mind across the divide.
- Bostrom, N, 2002 Existential risks: analyzing human extinction scenarios, Oxford university press, London.
- Ford, Martin R, 2009, The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, Acculant Publishing, Carlton.
- Hung, D & Khine, M. S., 2006, Engaged learning with emerging technologies, Dordrecht, Springer.
- Joy.B, 2000 Why the future does not need us, Lifedhow, Victoria.
- Kendall, K E, 1999, Emerging information technologies: Improving decisions, cooperation, and infrastructure, Sage Publications, New York.
- Kurzweil, R, 2005, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, Viking Adult, Camberwell, Victoria.