The Supercomputer in Our Hand
Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - June 13, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  There’s no question that computers are the biggest marvel of our modern time. This very innovation has given birth to many others. What’s more amazing, all this present amazement over the various new technologies that have sprung from computers may only be the beginning.  

The first computers were “big,” literally. Well, those original machines broke limits, all right. But they were not only feats of technical engineering – but physical feats in their own right, as well.

Back then, only the largest of companies, governments and militaries around the world could afford to own a computer. Big machines like those didn’t come cheap, of course. It took decades before the personal computing revolution was started by the likes of IBM, Microsoft and Apple – these companies shank the size of computers in order to fit the machines into homes.

The technological innovation didn’t stop at being able to shrink the computers to the size of an average television set. Technology continued to advance in leaps and bounds in the decades that followed. Computers –processing chips, in particular – continued to shrink at an exponential rate while, at the same time, becoming ever more powerful.

Back in 1965, the co-founder of Intel predicted that the processing power for computer chips would double every two years. The prediction proved right, and computing power has grown tremendously… and still growing.

The smartphone we hold in our hand today has probably more computing power than all of NASA when it put the first men on the moon in 1969. There’s good reason why people are excited and everyone wants to have one in their hand. It is estimated that there are about two billion smartphones in the world today, and the number is expected to rise to 6 billion by 2020.

Six billion smartphones represents huge computational capacity, although often that capacity is underutilized. While there have been concerns about becoming ‘addicted to’ or ‘overusing’ smartphones, the truth is that most of the time the phones just rest in our hand, or in our pocket or bag or on a table somewhere.

There’s so much computing power sleeping around. This huge, untapped source of processing power could be put to good use. For example, it could be used in research in a number of different fields.

 While smartphones are now beginning to be tapped to advance certain advocacies and initiatives, the collective downtime is still significant. Overall, the smartphones in our possession still represent a goldmine of untapped processing power and beneficial functions. Among young people – who own the biggest bulk of smartphones – smartphones are mostly used for social media.

By simply reading the manual that comes with our smartphones, we can discover many other and much better uses of the gadget. We need to master its basic functions, to see what more it can do for now – the possibilities are virtually endless. One day, this supercomputer in our hand could be searching for extraterrestrial life, helping to fight childhood cancer, and making our lives not only more exciting but more meaningful.

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