The Quickest Twenty Years in History

By Jeff Harding   |   July 2, 2024

It has been said that there has been more technological innovation and more data produced in the last 20 years than, well, no one actually knows, but it has been an unprecedented period of innovation. There definitely has been more data produced than in the entire history of mankind given the amount of material on the internet. 

I’m going to discuss the technology that didn’t exist 20 years ago and how the technology created since then has dramatically impacted our lives. I know there are scientific, environmental, and medical advancements, but I’m going to stick with personal technology. 

Let’s start with the Apple iPhone (2007). It was the beginning of the smartphone revolution. Or, putting it another way, it was the start of a life-changing technological revolution. Now we walk around with a powerful computer that is a phone/email-texting device/web browser/video-music player/camera-movie maker. It can store huge amounts of data. You can watch live TV, make movies, call your cousin in Zamboanga, monitor your vital signs, and check the weather. You are connected to the world. Now everyone has a smartphone. And an iPad and iWatch.

In 2008 Apple introduced its App Store where you can download useful third-party programs onto your iPhone. You can also buy music from Apple Music and play it on your  Apple devices.

It has been a leader in personal technology. Thank you Steve Jobs. 

Amazon introduced the Kindle (2007), a portable device to read e-books. You can download an e-book in seconds. This revolutionized the book business. Amazon and the Kindle had a lot to do with the decline of bookstores. Good? Bad? Well, now we can read any book anywhere on our iPhones, iPads, and Kindles. You authors can publish an e-book for free and put it on the internet for all to see. 

Do you like to meet people and catch up on their doings? Do you want to sell stuff online? There was a revolution in that too. Facebook changed the world by giving anyone a free web page to talk about whatever they want. This platform gave your family, friends, and followers a way to see what you’re up to. Facebook was the start. Now there’s Instagram, X (Twitter), Snapchat, Reddit, Pinterest, TikTok. You can make a living on these sites by plugging your products or
someone else’s. 

I’m just touching the surface
of technology that has
improved our daily lives. 

And then there’s Amazon Prime (2005). You can buy anything on Amazon at very competitive prices, many with free overnight delivery. And you also get streaming TV content and music. Retailers can complain about being driven out of business but it is we consumers who have voted with our dollars. They are now the number 2 retailer after Walmart.

If you worry about losing your computer files you should take advantage of storing everything in the Cloud. The Cloud is just a computer storage site that holds your files safely and securely. Amazon’s AWS started this service (2006) but was quickly followed by Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft, and Apple’s iCloud. Google Drive is free and iCloud is cheap.

All my devices are Apple products: laptop, iPads, iPhones, iWatch. I use Apple’s iCloud service which automatically uploads my photos and files to the Cloud. Any changes I make are uploaded almost instantaneously. Wherever I am I can access any iCloud file from any of my Apple devices. I don’t worry about losing anything. 

Google offers some amazing free apps you can use. They have replicated Microsoft’s Office tools (Word, Excel, etc.). They give you free email accounts. With Maps and Google Earth you can see the entire planet with satellite views. 

Entertainment has been revolutionized by streaming services: Netflix (2007), Hulu (2008), HBO (2010), Prime (2011), Apple TV (2019). Now, with your 85” screen and giant speakers, you have theater-like entertainment at home. Content is exploding and providers are scrambling to deliver new content with major actors, even new movies.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is brand new and it is already changing the world. ChatGPT-3 was introduced in 2020. ChatGPT-4 was introduced in 2022. It is free up to a point. With heavy use they charge a fee.

ChatGPT is an amazing tool. It’s changing our world. Businesses are rushing to adapt it to their needs. I use it for research. I don’t let it write my articles. There are many competitors entering this field. I recently discovered Perplexity, an AI engine similar to ChatGPT but with one big difference: it gives citations of where it got the information it gives you. This can solve the misinformation sometimes generated by AI engines (the so-called “hallucinations”).

I’m just touching the surface of technology that has improved our daily lives. There is also YouTube, Spotify, podcasts, Tesla, Neuralink, SpaceX, Webb, Uber, Zoom, Skype, LinkedIn, WordPress.

This is great stuff and it won’t stop.  


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