Every day, new information is added to the foundation of knowledge, leaving an indelible legacy and assisting us in improving the technologies that shape our future. In honor of the IEEE Computer Society’s 75th Anniversary, members were challenged to submit a short essay that delves into the impact technology has had on society by answering the following questions: In what direction are these technologies leading? What does the future have in store for us?
We are pleased to announce Martin Greenstein is the winner of the IEEE Computer Society Essay Contest for his entry, “It Is Who We Are.” As the winner of the essay content, Martin will receive a cash prize of $1,000 in addition to having his essay shared with IEEE Computer Society members on social media and newsletter.
We thank all of our members who put their thought to pen, and submitted essays on what the future and technology have in store for society.
Join us in celebrating all of our contestants and congratulating Martin Greenstein as the IEEE Computer Society 75th Anniversary Essay Content winner.
Martin Greenstein was a physics undergraduate at Case Western Reserve University and, thereafter, recognizing that engineering benefits humanity, obtained a PhD in applied physics. HIs career was mainly at The Raytheon Company where he worked primarily in air traffic control software and, from time to time, taught in-house classes on computer software. Martin is an IEEE life member; the membership having benefited him tremendously in terms of both knowledge and insurance coverage. Other than avidly promoting IEEE to his co-workers (including having brochures and doo-dads available at his desk) and attending a number of Computer Society and other IEEE talks in the Boston Section back when they were in person, his involvement in IEEE has been meager. Martin is now retired and trying to catch up on old Spectrum magazines and other IEEE publications. Martin is married and has two grown married children and seven grandchildren.
Imagine if people never advanced technology beyond their own instincts.
Imagine if people had no imagination or curiosity perhaps because they are perfectly content or totally fatalistic.
Imagine a society where people did not think of the past nor the future since nothing fundamentally changes.
Most people today could not imagine a society totally in equilibrium with its environment. Can you imagine humanity with no desire for better things or a society in which all needs are fulfilled?
Indeed, most people today would be morally opposed to a static society. We believe the purpose of humanity is to advance scientifically, technologically, and morally. Our very economy is based on competition where one’s success is measured by one’s being able to produce products or services better than one’s competition. Societies try to dominate other societies through any advantage that they may invent.
For us, the future is everything. We relentlessly plan and devise. The result is new technology. We adopt new technology compelled by the goals of economic benefit and security.
This is the 75th anniversary of the founding of the IEEE Computer Society. Perhaps a discussion of the development of applied mathematics (maybe beginning with Noah counting two of each animal) and computing devices (maybe beginning with the abacus) would be most appropriate to clearly demonstrate the impact of technology on the development of human civilization. Certainly the very existence of the IEEE Computer Society is to accelerate and propagate change, and certainly an enhanced word processor and aspects of the Internet enabled the production and communication of this essay.
But the big story of this moment is COVID-19. Some believe that the underlying corona virus was man made. If it were, then the creation of this virus is an example of technology changing society, ending lives, and unquestionably impacting the future. Even if it weren’t man made, worldwide cheap transportation helped spread the disease quickly around the globe.
Before we condemn technology for the pandemic, one must consider how technologies, including those advanced by the IEEE Computer Society, helped quickly develop and deploy treatments for the disease and vaccines to prevent it.
Clearly, technology leads to new problems but also to their solutions. Optimistically we can say that mankind is on an upward spiral in which in the long run succeeding generations are happier than the preceding. Specifically, we hope that today’s computer scientists and engineers feel that they are making contributions as great as their predecessors and that our contemporaries, no matter who they are, would not choose, if they could, to rather live at some time in the past.
A pessimist might worry that technology may result in something bad that no technological discovery can counteract. To the pessimist, one must say that when there is a will, there is a way. One must always maintain one’s faith in humanity no matter how dim the present. Mankind has always prospered and always will because our scientists and engineers always come through. It is who we are.
A not-for-profit organization, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the world's largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.