Computer technology is an area where things are always evolving and growing at a rapid rate. Ever since the introduction of computers in the 1950s, it has grown to becoming embedded in almost everything in the modern world. The first age of computing was all about simulation, computers were invented as a way of solving complex problems. Mainly, they are used to model complex systems (events) as a way to explore new characteristics and generate new designs (weapons, games etc.). This consequently paved the way for other vital technologies to utilize the computers and change the world as we know it today – from designing cars and planes to predicting weather forecasts and sending people to the moon. After simulation, communication was the next big wave as computers were able to connect more people in more ways than ever before. It’s this connection that eventually led to the third age of computing, embodiment. Embodiment refers to the way computers are interacting with the physical world – for example autonomous driving cars, automated factories and a plethora of smart devices. In recent years, the idea of a ‘smart’ city is gaining some attention and for good reasons.
The idea of a potentially smart city is that communication, data collection and information technologies are used to gather data about the core functions of an urban area and allocate resources accordingly and more efficiently to potentially improve quality of life, governance and citizen welfare and also to reduce costs and consumption. This is a perfect example of embodiment as computers are becoming more deeply engaged with human life and the physical world. Information about people and devices are being collected all the time, therefore the idea is to use those data to control and manage fundamental services and systems like traffic and transport, power plants, water and electricity supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, schools, hospitals etc. It also allows for more direct communication between officials and the community. The physical world is being sensed in a way with technologies such as self-driving cars, smartphones, digital assistants, artificial intelligence, machine learning and GPS and therefore makes the implementation of a smart city that much more justified. What to take from these technologies being successful is that computers have become so powerful and useful to the point where it makes humans look incompetent in a way.
As the world becomes more reliant on technology, it only makes sense to allow it to simplify our lives as much as possible. Humans are flawed in many ways and having something (computers) that can essentially take over and control many aspects of life can be beneficial. They eliminate risks and improve efficiency as well as provide better communications and allow the world to be more connected. Creating a smarter city means that its occupants can be safer, more connected and therefore improve productivity overall. The downside to it is that the more we rely on technology to do things for us, the lazier and less productive we also become. Furthermore, security and privacy will be compromised as a result because computers are not perfect and it can essentially breakdown or be tempered with. Computers have made life much simpler and outright better, realizing and implementing its potentials can and will be beneficial as long as we only utilize it to a certain extent. When devices can do and predict things on their own, it is ‘smart’ – but computers can only be smart when we tell it to be.
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