SAN JOSE, Calif. — Moore’s Law is not dead, but it has clearly reached old age, and no fundamental technology has emerged to replace it. Whatever comes next is likely to challenge old assumptions both for technologists and society at large.
That was one of the conclusions from an IEEE symposium here here exploring the 20-year technology horizon. The discussions examined some of the ways engineers need to take responsibility to represent the capabilities and limits of technology to a world that depends on it but often fails to understand it.
Technology is “getting more complicated as we go, and the public is not catching on to this,” said Robert Colwell, a consultant and former processor architect at Intel.
He noted troubling issues such as people increasingly taking for granted and de-valuing increasingly complicated technologies such as smartphones and GPS systems. The consumer products are expected to operate perfectly, and when they don’t society seeks someone to blame and punish. “That doesn’t fix the problem,” he said.
Even more troubling, sometimes in a debate non-technical individuals disregard scientific findings and offer their personal experience as if it were valid scientific evidence, Colwell said.
Dean Kamen, a veteran inventor and advocate of engineering education, touched on the topic in a keynoted delivered on videotape:
- If we as an engineering community don’t focus on the right issues and help the pubic understand, we should not expect the future to continue to afford all the advantages of the advancing technology. A lot of people are afraid of [increasingly complex technology] and unwilling to invest in it. Yet society demands the best of technology and has lower and lower tolerance for any risk. We need people to be better educated about the risks and rewards of technology.
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