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!
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.
I know what you mean, araasch. It does seem very out of balance that a small number of people understand and control the technology we use in our daily lives, that our daily lives in fact have come to depend on. And it boggles my mind how some people can still be such luddites. I have a friend who can barely work an iPhone or the Internet. Then again, in some ways, his live is more in the present time and not bogged down by technology and the virtual world, and I sort of envy that simplicity.
Elizebeth i agree with your point about facebook and other technologies but then every thing has positive and negative impacts infact every technology carries its pros and cons it totally depends upon individuals how to deal with it .
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."
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 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.
Replying to naperlou, You said, "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."
I will NEVER AGREE with you on this point. Edison started the first Engineering R&D company and kept all the patents for himself. However, he also paid two patent office clerks to change the date on a patent application in an attempt to steal my Grandfather's patent. The patent clerks went to prison and Edison was sentenced but the President of the USA pardoned him,"For the good of the Country." If you read the technical literature of the 1930s and 40s you will find Edison called a "Leach" or worse... History idolizes him but except for saving the telegrapher's son he was no Hero. And only the Phonograph was a product of his own labor. I (for one) am glad he lost out to Bell, in the Patent fight over the telephone. Heck the microphone in Edisons Phone only worked if it was dirty and corroded, But Bell had the "Carbon Button" ...
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.
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.
You know, Chuck, even if things might get heated in Design News comments sometimes, our comments are typically both smart and polite. All you have to do is look at the comments on a mainstream site such as CNN, and wow!. I can see why Popular Mechanics discontinued comments. Ours so far, are mostly constructive.
Good point, Rob. We do have a couryeous group, with a few rare exceptions. I saw the Pop Sci editorial about discontiuing comments. They alluded to the fact that a lot of their over-the-top comments were about global warming.
Yes, Rob, Pop Sci actually mentioned the global warming problem in their editorial about commenters, saying, "A politically-motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically-validated topics. Everything from evolution to the origins of climate change..."
Disappointed to see sarnoffs name in connection with great quotes - even if it was a stupid quote of his associate.
sarnoff (small s by intent) murdered by tort Americas best inventor, because Inv. would not allow sarnoff to claim that new invention was product of sarnoffs company. sarnoffs co was already very rich from manufacturing inventor (& best friend!)s' earlier inventions, (more than half the major radio inventions were his) - sarnoff just stole his new invention & anytime inventor won in court sarnoff (wish there was a smaller s!) just filed new appeals, aided by totally pro big biz / anti small inventor patents system*.
Eventually Inv's wife walked out after a disagreement over a new case against sarnoffs co, 2 weeks later Inv. put on hat & coat & exited building from 13th floor. Now very few even know his name.
Inv. even provided Allies with unjammable communication during the war, when enemy only had jammable. Hugely significant - helped us win.
David Sarnoff's prediction of nobody paying for a wireless music box is the most telling. Because it's not really the technology that was lacking, but the person and the drive behind it to make it successful. Edison's 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent persperation comes to mind.
And yes, this is another reason why STEM education is a farce. The 99 percent persperation in somebody is either there or it is not. Hard to teach.
I want people in technology who want to be there, who have a burning desire to be there. If most of those people happen to be men, then that is who I want there. I don't think there should be some societally imposed gender quota on who is in technology.
If you watch infants, little girls generally gravitate to certain things, and little boys to others. I'm not going to expound further because it only takes minimal observation to see the general differences between boys and girls, and it is obvious from a very early age.
I believe parents should seek to discern the natural bent in each child, and encourage them in the direction that they are "wired" to go. Maybe more boys are "wired" to be interested in technology, and thus, more likely to go there.
I don't believe that we (society?) should decide for our daughters that some number of them should be in technology and push them in that direction. For the ones who have that desire and bent, lead them in that direction. For the ones that don't, should we impose it on them?
If I believed that there was some grand conspiracy to keep women out of technology careers, I would be vehemently against it, but I don't think that is the case. If it is, I'm all ears.
Your point is well argued, Ttemple. And maybe the inclination to shun women in technical work environments is over. I certainly saw it. But that was some years ago. Perhaps industry now welcomes women in technical careers. Women who are now in technical and engineering environments would know better than I.
Rob, This is not only for women basically it comes from inside what you want to do . You cant force anyone to be in specific field because if you are not willing to do that specific work or you dont like that work then its useless to be there because without passion one cant do anything .Specially for engineering it needs an inside push untill and unles you dont have that charm inside you , you cant be a good engineer .
I won't argue with you on that, Rob. The key question is: how? We were talking about this on another message board, trying to get to the root of the problem and how it might be solved. There are some good efforts underway, though, apparently.
Elizabeth, if there are efforts in place, I applaud them. Sometimes it's just a matter of breaking stereotypes. I don't think we've completely outgrown the notion that boys just play with guns and girls just play with dolls. I have a boy and two girls, so I know that it works that way much of the time. But I've also seen the doll-loving girl get very technical with SIMS.
Interesting that you see the stereotypes continuing to play out with your kids, Rob, but it's also good to see one of your girls interested in more technical games and ideas as well. Stereotypes are made to be broken!
Interesting article, John Duffy. I understand what Philp K. Dick meant and how it's relevant today...ie, people spying on each other *through* phones. In terms of his quote, I would argue it's not phones spying but companies and/or the governments of countries. And according to this article, it's not just phones that could potentially be used as spying tools.
People are spying each other and that process technology is helping them to do so . Basically technology has gone so ahead and far that the word which once was considered very important "PRIVACY" is no more there , every one can reach to every one . Basically we are living in the technology world and this was the choice that we have choosen by ourselves.
I found that the one quote that stated how exquisitely dependant o technology so many have become while so very few understand it to be very true, making it quite disturbing. Here engineers have provided all kinds of cheap goodies that do all kinds of things, and folks become quite dependant on them, and they have not any clue about how they work, or even any of the principles of how they work.
So what would happen if some day all of the engineers decided that the unknowing would no longer be permitted to enjoy the benefits of that that they don't understand? Could engineers ever be paid as much as lawyers and doctors? And get as much respect as doctors?
Using sensors and a specialized test stand, engineers have discovered that the root causes of head trauma may lie in a complex pattern of forces that today’s football helmets aren’t equipped to handle.
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