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The End of the Digital Age

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Computers have become intertwined with nearly every aspect of our society, and their disappearance would be inconceivable. We take them for granted, as we do the technological advancements that appear every few years, almost like clockwork. 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 and breakthroughs arrived at the pace of a tortoise instead of a hare? Or what would happen if it all just 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 shrink much more in size. To stave off the impending problem, manufacturers have poured billions of dollars into research and development, working toward chips that blend computing muscle with innovative behavior. The microchips will handle their tasks with greater finesse, and thereby hopefully avert the looming problem. Think smart chips capable of adjusting their function based on the needs of the program and the user. However, the paucity of answers beyond that point serves as a portent for the end of the digital age, perhaps occurring around 2020.

It's a race among chip manufacturers, as they scramble to maintain Moore's law. Gordon Moore, the founder of Intel, anticipated that the processing power of a chip would double every two years. So far, he's been right on the money. In fact, microchips have outstripped expectations, for their processing power has better than doubled every two years.

A slow down or end of the digital age would prove detrimental to the economies around the world. Electronics would cost more, on top of which consumers wouldn't upgrade because of fewer new products.


Preview some of the lesson material:

Do you agree or disagree? Why?

  1. The Internet is the most important invention of the last 100 years.
  2. The computer is the most important invention of the last 100 years.
  3. In 20 years, computers will be the size of a watch.
  4. In 20 years, computers will run most of our homes and businesses.
  5. There will be a computer or Internet crash in the future.

Questions: Answer the questions to check comprehension.

  1. According to the article, what do we take for granted?
  2. What do microchip manufacturers think about the problem?
  3. What are microchip manufacturers doing about the problem?
  4. What is Moore's law?
  5. Has Moore's law proved true so far?

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. Do you think the proposed scenario will happen in the future? Why/not?
  2. What do you think would happen if there were a technological crash?
  3. How often do you use computers? Would a technological slow down concern you? Why/not?
  4. Do you think there are greater problems facing the world in the near future? If yes, what are they?
  5. 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.


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