The media is understandably drawn to stories which immediately grab the attention of potential readers. This can involve salacious stories of the antics of celebrities and politicians, or the simplification of complex international conflicts.
Stories which feature vast sums of money or riches made quickly and effortlessly always make for great headlines and good reading, as the average person vicariously envisions themselves suddenly and miraculously achieving great wealth.
Such was the case recently with the mobile game Flappy Bird.
The Flappy Bird Saga
Developed by a young Vietnamese man, the game was available in the Apple App store for months before it became a viral sensation. A combination of difficult game play and the ability to posts ones score though social media rapidly brought the game to amazing heights of daily revenue for the creator before he became overwhelmed with his own success and decided to withdraw the game.
In the immediate aftermath of the game being taken down, existing functional copies and the phones they resided were offered on EBay for thousands of dollars. The game itself, while incredibly simplistic in terms of graphics and objectives, even spawned academic interest into the nature and purpose of games and play.
The story of Flappy Bird was picked up and carried by multiple news outlets precisely because it featured timeless elements; sudden fortune, a sweeping pop culture fad, and also a young man thrust into the limelight and unable to face the pressure of public scrutiny. If only there had been a sex scandal attached the narrative may have lasted for more than just a few days!
Non-Avian Technology News
While fun stories like that of Flappy Bird dominate headlines, scientists and engineers are quietly going about changing the world around us. The now ubiquitous iPhone will just turn 7 this year and yet, along with Android based smartphones, is busily changing the nature of ages old social interactions, as well as some other business models. Just as Netflix and other streaming video sites contributed to the demise of Blockbuster, smartphones have contributed to the declining sales of standalone devices such as GPS navigators and MP3 players. The next significant leap that society may make will be the incorporation of robots into daily interactions.
Many industrial applications are already accomplished either completely or with the aid of robots. In these situations workers are trained to supervise the machines. At the consumer level, many households have also introduced some type of menial robotic device to automate tasks. The complexity varies from something as simple as a programmable Mr. Coffee to the somewhat more advanced Roomba robotic vacuum. Still, these are machines overseen by humans. The next step will be machines overseeing humans.
This technology is not far off. Public service robots can be used to direct motorists and collect data in order to aid city planners in understanding traffic patterns. An experimental version of what may soon be widely deployed is being used in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Future applications are even more interesting. It’s already been demonstrated that a single robot is capable of performing a complex task. The next step is to have multiple robots working together to multiple the efficiency. A team of researchers at Harvard are working on exactly that and seemingly have made great strides towards robot colonies achieving incredible results.
Though it can be entertaining to read instances where individuals reap giant rewards for some small innovation, it’s also exciting to seek out the todays stories that describe tomorrows technology.