Reaction Paper Four: Gary Smith

I really enjoyed Gary Smith’s lecture this week: “Hardware and Software Development in the Modern Age.” Some of the products of the future he showed us seemed a little farfetched but I wouldn’t put it past today’s inventors to create such innovative products. I completely agree that technology has crossed a huge amount of boundaries and has invaded the worlds of many disciplines and truly, that’s one of the things I love about technology today.

When he discussed the materials that go into creating the technology we use on a daily basis, it truly peaked my interest. I’ve always had a slight interest in making products that were healthier for the earth as well as more efficient and healthy power supplies. His lecture gave me a much better understanding of what truly goes into making these products and it worries me that we use such rare minerals in stuff we throw away every two years or less. Our upgrading society is living an extremely unsustainable lifestyle. Which leads me to these questions; 1) What happens when we run out of the fuel to power the huge processing strength our technology has today? 2) What will happen when we run out of the minerals to even create these products? As much as I enjoy having a better understanding of the continuously wasteful practices of the world’s industry, it makes me extremely uncomfortable thinking about the health of our world decades from now. Just driving today, I could see the nasty yellow smog looming in the sky. After this lecture I feel a little overwhelmed because “saving the Earth” goes so much further than recycling a few bottles here and there. I don’t know where to focus. I already knew about the emissions from factories and vehicles. I already knew about the chemicals we’re releasing into a world that can’t use it and now I know about the minerals we are continuously taking from an emptying source.

I would love to hear more about the minerals that go into our products and what today’s creators are doing to minimize the rare materials we have to use. I’ve heard about “graphing” where they use graphite to power low powered technology but what about a larger scale? Is there something akin to windmills and solar power when it comes to the TV’s and cell phones we’re constantly buying as a society?

That’s another issue too that I have a huge problem with: a continuously upgrading society. For example, I just upgraded my cell phone at my two year contract mark and have done so since I first got a cell phone. I couldn’t tell you where all of my old ones have gone but I can tell you they probably weren’t recycled or disposed of properly. Now, phone companies have just introduced no contract – upgrade whenever you want plans to the public and who’s to say that the average lifespan of an everyday smart phone won’t shrink to one year or even a few months if you have the money? I think the general public should have a better understanding of their products lest they continue adding to the waste of the world.

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