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5 Convenient Technologies that Built the Digital Revolution

December 13, 2022 No Comments

By Ross Moore

The Digital Revolution, or the Third Industrial Revolution, is the move to digital technology, moving away from analog and mechanical technology (something to ponder: with the move to widespread digital technology, how long before “clockwise” is an archaic phrase?).

The Digital Revolution has two components: 1) invention and adoption, and 2) proliferation. Even though something is invented, it’s not necessarily adopted; and even if not adopted, an invention could lead to another invention that gets adopted. And those that proliferate can remain in use while advanced forms become invented and adopted.

Advancements such as AI, ML, and robotics are the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Invented? Yes. Adopted? Yes. Widespread? Not so much. They are immensely useful, but not yet reliable and affordable, though it’s exciting to see how they will receive widespread adoption. So, I’m not including these valuable contributions to developing the current Digital Revolution.

The Digital Revolution was ushered in and moved along with transistors, semiconductors, ARPANET, World Wide Web, microchip, and a host of other inventions. And all this relies on a society adopting these things (for an example of something that didn’t take flight, think of the Segway).

There’s never a clear cutoff for any kind of era, whether the Bronze Age, Middle Ages, Information Age, or Digital Revolution (and this does not consider the other-than-Western concurrent and successive eras, dynasties, etc.). It’s all approximate, and there’s plenty of overlap. While there is no doubt about the widespread adoption of digital, there are still analog, mechanical technologies, and legacy digital tech. For an example, see the call for people to learn COBOL in order to support legacy tech.

The Digital Revolution has created incredible opportunities for commerce, idea generation, international connections, business growth, and further digital change. And each advancement requires multiple layers: no internet without infrastructure, no infrastructure without hardware to back it up; no data centers without advanced heating and cooling; no hardware without an electric grid to undergird it.

Let’s explore 5 technologies that are building the current phase of the Digital Revolution.

1.    Smartphones

Why I include it

I include the smartphone because it contains so many technologies, whereas the category of smart technology comprises (or “is composed of” but not a mix)  single or limited use items (cameras, fitness trackers, temp and humidity sensors are just that). They each provide one or more valuable services, but not as useful in-and-of-themselves as the smartphone.

For revolution-worthy purposes, I’m counting the first iPhone (not the venerable 1992 IBM Simon) as revolutionary because of its combination of all these things, and it led to the improvement not only of itself but gave rise to competition.

Weakness

There’s always an update, or a glitch, or a vulnerability, and apps are countless, making security and privacy constant battles, even for consumers.

2.    E-Books

Why I include it

These have made it much more possible for those with vision problems to be included in the revolution, especially in the domains of reading and education. The value is also in the greatly reduced space needed for volumes of books, whether read on e-readers, tablets, or smartphones.

Weakness

Because they are so useful to so many, continuing to make them affordable and reliable is important, not losing focus on the societal benefits provided and keeping tabs on what devices people use to read them.

3.     APIs

Why I include it

Anyone who plays a game, watches a film, books a flight, makes dinner reservations, makes a payment, listens to music – they’ve used an API. APIs connect innumerable services and there are too many APIs out there to count.

Businesses of all shapes, sizes and locales can work together to benefit others as never before. Dozens of APIs can be included in a single app to provide services.

Weakness

26% of businesses use at least twice as many APIs now as a year ago. The universal use of APIs has led to a greatly increased attack surface, making it vital for companies to properly secure them.

4.     Internet connectivity

Why I include it

So much is attainable because of internet connectivity – learning from videos and webinars; social media and web meetings to connect with friends, family, and customers; keeping tabs on what’s going on in our homes. Being able to hop on and build upon that connection has changed the world.

Weakness

All it takes is a cut cable or DNS issue to take it down, even though it has proven to be resilient. Companies need to be ready with their incident response, and individuals need to prepare to take care of things the “old-fashioned way” during those down times.

5.     Wi-Fi

Why I include it

Who doesn’t enjoy wi-fi wherever they go? This invention also revealed the need for better encryption protocols. And that gave rise to the need for personal VPNs, which has grown from out-of-reach of most people to affordable for most. Security-wise, it created a whole sector for security professionals in testing and security.

Weakness

Some may think it’s easy and secure and that no one would want to attack it. Wi-fi is so much in use that its setup and security maturity is assumed, making it a continued vector of attack, and requiring continued effort to set it up and deliver properly.

Honorable Mentions

I left out many potential items. 2 objects that are driving the future are drones and 3D printers. They’re not ubiquitous, but they are becoming more prevalent as their value is proven and they are more affordable.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Like any revolution, it’s easy to latch on to the new ideas while forgetting the old. That can be dangerous because the new is built on the old, and the older tech is not always bad. Think of energy revolutions – as time has gone on, we haven’t eliminated coal, gas, wind, water, solar, and nuclear. Instead, the world has greatly diversified the energy options available so that each option is not exhausted. It’s not all-or-nothing, but the need to make multiple forms available.

The Digital Revolution is not a matter of getting rid of all old technology. Rather, it’s a matter of diversifying to make right and better tech available to more people.

About the Author: Ross Moore is the Cyber Security Support Analyst with Passageways. He was Co-lead on SOC 2 Type 1 implementation and Lead on SOC 2 Type 2 implementation, facilitated the company’s BCP/DR TTX, and is a HIPAA Security Officer. Over the course of his 20 year IT career, Ross has served in a variety of operations and infosec roles for companies in the manufacturing, healthcare, real estate, business insurance, and technology sectors. He holds (ISC)2’s SSCP and CompTIA’s Security + certifications, a B.S. in Cyber Security and Information Assurance from WGU, and a B.A. in Bible/Counseling from Johnson University. He is also a regular writer at Bora.

APPLICATION INTEGRATION, CLOUD DATA, DATA and ANALYTICS , DATA PRIVACY, DATA SECURITY, HR Technology, MOBILE DATA, SOCIAL BUSINESS

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