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Cloud, Smartphones, Apps and Printed Houses

November 4, 2013

This is the first of a regular weekly post, attempting to draw together, link and comment on news over the past seven days.

ImageOne of the more startling statistics I read last week was a prediction in a press release from IT research company Gartner that “cloud computing will become the bulk of new IT spend by 2016”.

“The use of cloud computing is growing, and by 2016 this growth will increase to become the bulk of new IT spend, according to Gartner. 2016 will be a defining year for cloud as private cloud begins to give way to hybrid cloud, and nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017.”

There’s also been news recently about IBM and Amazon fighting it out over a $600m cloud computing contract with the CIA. By the way, IBM lost. And Gartner also came out with a figure of US$2.1bn for the cloud security market this year alone – yes, just cloud security.

Generally speaking, the community has grown to accept cloud – at a personal level, we get it and can easily see why it makes sense. Most computer users today are probably using at least one cloud-based service – and may not even be aware that they are doing so.

Cloud is not that different to other utility services that we take for granted in the First World – water, electricity, phone, Internet – it’s not really replacing something that we could do better ourselves, or at least it’s not having a negative impact on us in the physical sense. When technology advancement is seen to be having more of a negative influence on our lives than a positive one, then you would have to question its long-term viability.

Unlike cloud, there are some areas of technological advancement that are causing major community disquiet. It is easy to see how Pixar could take this concern to the nth degree and imagine the post-mass consumerist world in WALL-E and the human occupants of the spaceship Axiom (two of whom are pictured above), who have become virtually helpless after living for centuries with machines and computers doing everything for them.

One area of concern is smartphones. I wrote about it in last year (Do Your Children Play on Smartphones in Restaurants?) and a Perth girls’ school was recently featured on ABC Radio because it had banned mobile phone use during breaks. This from Penrhos College’s principal Meg Melville:

“The problem we found was that the girls were sitting around at recess and lunch, and rather than talking with each other they were actually texting on their phones. And we felt that that’s really not the way we wanted their development to go. And we wanted to really instil the art of a good conversation as part of their social skills.”

ZDNet’s Jason Perlow also wrote a really good opinion piece on the subject: Why Generation Y needs a smartphone intervention – and he’s not even a parent!

As an extension of the smartphone issue, there has also been a lot of debate around the danger of screen time and apps on young children’s mental development. published an article last week, Child education expert Professor Carla Rinaldi warns apps can kill creativity, in which Professor Rinaldi was quoted as saying that

“children were relying too much on technological “apps” instead of their own ingenuity and imagination.”

Another area of community concern is The Printer that Can Print a 2,500 Square Foot House in 20 Hours, although you have to read the comments below the story to get a sense for it. A lot of people are apprehensive about the future of trades and the building industry if this technique becomes prevalent. That said, it’s an incredible technological advance – imagine being able to automate the construction of a house! It’s a report on technology developed by the University of Southern California’s School of Engineering, called Contour Crafting:

“Contour Crafting technology has great potential for automating the construction of whole structures as well as sub-components. Using this process, a single house or a colony of houses, each with possibly a different design, may be automatically constructed in a single run, embedded in each house all the conduits for electrical, plumbing and air-conditioning.”

Maybe we aren’t that far from the world created for us in WALL-E, especially when Contour Crafting talks about future applications for the technology:

“Our research also addresses the application of Contour Crafting in building habitats on other planets. Contour Crafting will most probably be one of the very few feasible approaches for building structures on other planets, such as the Moon and Mars, which are being targeted for human colonization before the end of the new century.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 4, 2013 1:45 pm

    Great thoughts. I feel like the number of things we “can” do is outgrowing the number of things we can embrace and accept. Like take cloud computing. I store most of my files in Google Drive without even thinking, but my dad still feels some resistance to not having a physical copy of his files on a hard drive. I guess most of these things will eventually gain societal acceptance some time in the future. 30 years from now, we may never think twice about having all of our houses printed out. Our children may not even see a construction crew at work. The world of Wall-E may not be far behind… 😦

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