The End of the Digital Age
- Parent Category: Upper-Intermediate News Lessons
- Category: Science and Technology
- Written by Chris Cotter
Computers have become woven into our societies and our lives, and their disappearance would be unfathomable. We take them for granted, as we do the technological advancements that appear every few years. Computers get quicker, the Internet offers more information, and other household devices like TVs and DVD players simply do more. But what would happen if the advancements arrived at the pace of a tortoise instead of a hare? Or what would happen if the advancements came to a complete standstill?
It's a realistic scenario, and microchip manufacturers are concerned. The chips, which power all our electronics nowadays, have begun to reach technological limits because they just can't get much smaller in size. Therefore, manufacturers have poured billions of dollars into research and development, working toward chips that will behave in innovative ways. The microchips of the future will handle their tasks with greater finesse, and thereby hopefully avoid the looming problem. The smart chips will adjust their function to the needs of the program and the user. However, there aren't many answers beyond that point, and it could signal the end of the digital age by 2020.
It's a race among chip manufacturers, as they scramble to maintain Moore's law. Gordon Moore, who founded Intel, anticipated that the processing power of a chip would double every two years. He's been right so far. In fact, microchips have more than met expectations, because their processing power has better than doubled every two years.
A slow down of the digital age would seriously affect economies around the world. Electronics would cost more. Consumers wouldn't upgrade because of fewer new products.
Preview some of the lesson material:
Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- The Internet is the most important invention of the last 100 years.
- The computer is the most important invention of the last 100 years.
- In 20 years, computers will be the size of a watch.
- In 20 years, computers will run most of our homes and businesses.
- There will be a computer or Internet crash in the future.
Questions: Answer the questions to check comprehension.
- According to the article, what do we take for granted?
- What do microchip manufacturers think about the problem?
- What are microchip manufacturers doing about the problem?
- What is Moore's law?
- Has Moore's law proved true so far?
post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!
- Do you think the proposed scenario will happen in the future? Why/not?
- What do you think would happen if there were a technological crash?
- How often do you use computers? Would a technological slow down concern you? Why/not?
- Do you think there are greater problems facing the world in the near future? If yes, what are they?
- What do you think computers will be like in 2020? Please explain.
Google Search: Type "digital age" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.