Money and technology: A Q&A with three experts

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Ten years ago on June 29, the first ever iPhone was released. Since then, Apple has released 14 more models including the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5c, the iPhone 5S, the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, the iPhone 6S, the iPhone 6S Plus, the iPhone SE, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus.

These numbers clearly represent Apple’s release-rate with at least one, if not two, iPhone models being released per year since its first model. Though a popular brand, iPhones are but one brand of smartphone. According to the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of U.S. adults surveyed said they had a smartphone of some kind.

In developing countries, numbers aren’t nearly as high, though they are growing. As of 2015, the median smartphone ownership rate was 37 percent, up from 21 percent in 2013. Similarly, though to a lesser degree, even those in the U.S. with an annual income less than $30,000 struggle with keeping up on all technology compared to those with an annual income $31,000 and above.

This has created a digital divide, keeping those with more expendable income at the upper end and those with less, including economies with less, at the lower end.

With this correlation between money and technology, this leads to the question: Has money led us to become technology hungry?  To explore this question, we dove into the minds of three Michigan State University computer science and engineering faculty members.

Dr. Dean Aslam, professor of electrical and computer engineering, member of National Academy of Inventors, director of Micro and Nano Technology Laboratory, Assoc. VP Americas of MANCEF.

 

Q: What are your opinions of the progress and advancements technology has made over the past 5-10 years?

A: Transdisciplinary technological development, EE, computers, biology, neural, supply chain, energy, etc. Consider digital psychiatry: diagnosis by smartphones.

Q: What do you think has driven this progress?

A:  One, innovations and desire/motivation to invent and become famous. Two, commercialization, startup companies, connection to money.

Q: Do you think there is a relationship between money and technology? If so, how would you define that relationship?

A: Generally there is none, but in case of two above, a strong relationship exists and that brings technology to common people.

Q: Do you think money has made the world more “obsessed” with technology?

A: This is only true for technologies that are commercialized.

Q: How do you think money and technology have affected people in the last 20 years?

A: Mostly positively but in some cases more focus on money has resulted in generating stress in the society leading to many diseases—stress causes chronic inflammation that leads to heart disease and cancer. More stress-reducing technologies are needed to counter the negative effects of technology.

Q: Do you think technology advancement is moving too rapidly, not rapidly enough, or at the right pace?

A: Perhaps at the right pace.

Q: What role does money play in the advancement of technology, would you say?

A: It plays a major role mainly in commercialization of technologies.

Linda Clifford, electrical and computer engineering professor.

Q: What are your opinions of the progress and advancements technology has made over the past 5-10 years?

A: I love seeing the advancements in computer technology as I have been working with it since it’s infancy. It’s an exciting field.

Q: What do you think has driven this progress?

A: Keen and curious minds. Sound judgement of what is needed.

Q: Do you think there is a relationship between money and technology? If so, how would you define that relationship?

A: Yes and no. Students today take courses in computers because of the money they can make—but many do so because they have brilliant ideas of taking the technology further into the future.

Q: Do you think money has made the world more “obsessed” with technology?

A: No, I do not. I don’t think money is behind the advancement of computer technology. I think the motivation of discovery and the helping of solving many outstanding everyday problems is the motive for this.

Q: How do you think money and technology have affected people in the last 20 years?

A:  The driving down of the cost of computers, cell phones, 3D printers, etc., has made technology more assessable to the everyday layman. Thus, they have become dependent upon the technology available. For instance, students can’t live without their cell phones—you see them everywhere walking and talking. Personal contact is going away and this is a definite problem. People have stopped talking to each other face-to-face. They can communicate in an anonymous way these days and get away without taking responsibility for their actions.

Q: Do you think technology advancement is moving too rapidly, not rapidly enough, or at the right pace?

A: Technology is advancing rapidly at the right pace. We are able to keep up with it if the desire is there to do so. Many are falling behind in keeping up and this is a definite problem. Retraining is a big factor that must be considered.

Q: What role does money play in the advancement of technology, would you say?

A: You need money for the research and development of technology but as it becomes mainstream, it drives the costs down for the everyday person. So, yes, money does play a big part in the advancement of technology.

Listen to my full conversation with Kelly Climer, CSE system administrator, here.