Technology may be the lifeblood of engineers, but it’s the business of almost everyone. From the time we turn on the radio in the morning until we check our final email messages at night, we’re pushing buttons, turning keys, and answering electronic beeps.
That’s why virtually everyone has an opinion on technology. Economists like to cite its importance, and users may rage against its inadequacies, but all of us have thoughts on it. Occasionally, some of those thoughts are profound.
Today, we offer insights, forecasts, and observations on technology. From wise to witty to wildly inaccurate, here are a few of the most notable. Click on the image below to start the slideshow.
“The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.”
— John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States (Quote source: Wikiquote / Photo source: Wikipedia)
Great slideshow, Chuck. I especially love the quotes by Lee Iacocca and Carl Sagan. The first is interesting because it was in 2007, and here we are in nearly 2014 still trying to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels. The other is interesting because it remains true to this day!
Chuck, there are some good ones in here. There are also some duds.
I like the Bill Gates quote about battery companies. At least he realizes that there may not be a solution. It also illustrates the approach to venture capital. Invest in a bunch if one might work out. Another interesting thing about that one is that we don't have an energy problem.
Kelvin's quote is of a type that has been made over time. Obviously a very smart guy, he was completely wrong. Another exampe is Ernst Mach, who in the late 19th century encouraged people to stop studying physics. He claimed that everything had been discovered and that there were just a few little details to be worked out. Then Einstein worked out one of those little details and everything changed. Beware of really smart guys making predictions. I have lots of others as well.
I think that Edison had it right. He was a great inventor and innovator. Just think of all the technology companies that were started in a garage.
Glenn was living in the midst of the baby boom. We had a major surplus of young people at the time. Because that generation is living much longer, and is so well educated, the need now is for us to leverage that group. I know engineers who are in their 50s or later that are still creating patents. Some of them are going back and getting PhDs. Since the actuaries say that if we get 65 today, we have a 50% chance of living into our 90s. That is the pool of talent we need to tap.
I also found the Zuckerburg quote interesting. On the face of it, it seems transformational. Then you realize that the voice that is connected to everyone is updating the minutia of their lives, and frankly I could care less when they eat, sleep, and crap!
Then I also wonder: when Bill Gates says he has invested in 5 battery companies, does this mean he knows which ones are getting government subsidies? Did he contribute to the right campaign? His money is protected from bankruptcy?
And the shocker, or maybe the prophetic nature is shocking, the phone that spies on you! Hello, NSA, are you hearing this?
"If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance."
I forgot to mention the quotes from these two famous technology foes. McNealy's quote is funny to me because I used to write about Sun Microsystems for many years and his razzing of Microsoft every time he made a public appearance was infamous (even when he made appearances with Ballmer and MSFT executives, which sometimes happened). The Ballmer quote is hilarious in retrospect, considering how ridiculously popular the iPhone is and how it so radically changed our lives--and how Microsoft's Windows Mobile strategy never really took off. (People can argue with me on that, but I also used to cover Microsoft, so I will stand by my opinion!). The Ballmer quote also shows the bravado of the Microsoft culture. The technology field certainly had/has its colorful characters!
How can we forget Ken Olson's 1977 quote regarding personal computers,
"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home."
Ken Olson a vetern of MIT's Lincoln Labs was a co-founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). While not exactly a quote on "technology" it reflects his view on the potential public use of technology.
Interesting point about the Zuckerberg quote, GTOlover. I think we are beginning to see the negative effect Facebook is having on society (jealousy when looking at other people's lives we wish we had, too much information being shared about people's lives with who knows what company or person online etc.), so while I'm sure he meant well, perhaps the transformation isn't really helping society. I am an avid Facebook user, bordering on addictive, but sometimes I wish it was never invented. I sort of miss wondering about what peopel are up to and having to actually contact them via email or phone to see how they are. Transform society Facebook certainly has, but I am not sure it's been for the better.
I was going to use the Olsen quote, mmunroe, but then remembered there has been some debate about whether it was taken out of context. According to Wikipedia: Olsen "referred to having the computer run the house, with automated doors, voice-activated faucets, et cetera. He had a computer in his home for general use and promulgated the idea." Honestly, I don't know if that's revisionist history or reality, but I ultimately decided not to go there.
I know several people in their 20s (my daughter among them) who have gotten off FaceBook for the reasons you cite, Liz. From what I'm told, it's a time sink. And there's also the "TMI" (too much information) issue.
Carl Sagan's quote was correct then, and more correct now. We live in a society that is ever dependant on technology, but is quite content to let a mere fraction of its population understand how to design, build, and maintain the current and future technologies.
The question of whether engineers could have foreseen the shortcut maintenance procedures that led to the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 in 1979 will probably linger for as long as there is an engineering profession.
More than 35 years later, the post-mortem on one of the country’s worst engineering disasters appears to be simple. A contractor asked for a change in an original design. The change was approved by engineers, later resulting in a mammoth structural collapse that killed 114 people and injured 216 more.
If you’re an embedded systems engineer whose analog capabilities are getting a little bit rusty, then you’ll want to take note of an upcoming Design News Continuing Education Center class, “Analog Design for the Digital World,” running Monday, Nov. 17 through Friday, Nov. 21.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.