The Technological Race

There are several fields in which if you actually stop making progress in the right direction then you are said to be going backwards. All such fields are motivated by technological advancements at such a pace that even a one month or one day old idea is said to be obscelete. The people who work in such institutions or are employed in such fast paced inudustries have to be very determined and focused. Those people are actually of the highest calibre and are the finest gems of their trade. Examples of such fields are the computer hardware industry and the motorsports industry.

Nowadays every house and office has a computer. Whether its a desktop, a laptop, a pocket PC or a tablet PC it uses the same innovation. The technology used may be different but the same ideas are implemented with a little bit of modification with respect to the capabilities of the device. As efforts are made to reduce the limitations in the functionality of these devices the technology automatically undergoes a rapid evolution and reformation. This whole process is so quick that in the matter of a few months a new generation of hardware with better functionality and capabilities arrives thus making the older products seem like something from the stone age. This is specially the case for the gaming oriented hardware market. Every six or eight months a new series of hardware products is launched which has a huge advantage over it’s predecessor. The new hardware out-performs the six month old product as if it was launched after years of
development. This huge leap in performance is due to the massive investment of time and money in the development of new hardware. As soon as one product is launched the development for the next device starts. For example, in the GPU (Graphics Procesing Unit) market the manufacturers of chipsets like Nvidia and ATI spend millions of dollars in designing, developing and testing their products which are going to be launched in the future. The same goes with the motherboard and processor manufacturing giant Intel. The pace with which new products are developed is astonishing given the kind of performance difference we get. This effects the typical user quite a lot because when a user pays a handsome amount to buy a high-end graphics card he expects, at least, a year of good frame rates while playing new games but this is not the case as after a period of six months the new product arrives which in turn leads to the game developers developing new games which work best on the new graphics cards. So, in order to be able to get good frame rates the user needs to upgrade his PC again by getting a new graphics card. This reflects the kind of pace that the computer hardware industry
progresses with and a user who is left behind has a huge disadvantage.

The elite competition in motorsports is Formula 1. Here not only the cars are amongst the fastest on earth but also the kind of technology that runs them. Every year a whole new car is made which is faster than the car that ran last year. The cost of only the development and research that goes into the designing of  these cars goes high into the millions. All round the year research continues to make the car better for the next grand prix. Hundreds of hours of research in wind tunnels and millions of dollars are spent only to make sure that the car that will run in the next grand prix is faster than all the other cars. Here faster means a mere difference of thousands of a second. In a world where 0.0001 of a second may be the difference between first and second position a halt in development means disaster. The budget of big teams like McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari may go high into the millions as they compete with each other for podium positions. For every race there is a new aerodynamic package which suits the driver and the strategy. Special rubber compounds are made for each race by tyre manufacturers just as special fuel mixtures are made by the leading fuel suppliers. All this makes the lap times go down and the reliability of the car go up. The pace and budget of development is the main difference here between good and bad teams. All this makes for a very fast paced field.

The main reason behind such lightning fast development is competition. Competition between hardware manufacturers makes them work harder amd faster to get a better product in the market while competition between different teams makes them work harder and with more determination to get a better and faster car on the race track.

Apart from the above examples, there are several other industries which have very high rates of technological advancements. This, on the whole, is good for us because the faster we develop the better it is for us. What we have accomplished in the last decade or so has only been possible due to the technological reformation we have gone through. Would stem cell research have been possible without the kind of technology we have now? No. Would we have been able to conduct research on fuel cells and other alternative fuel resources if it were not for all the technological advancements we have made? No.

Ali Mirza FY
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