Technological Advancements

Li-Yen Ho

According to a 2019 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, teenagers 13-18 spend an average of 6.5 hours a day on screens even before the pandemic struck. Now, high school students are forced to take classes online and factor in more time in front of a computer. During the pandemic, especially, most social interaction takes place over text or video call. Some extracurricular activities would also have moved online, causing many, including teenagers, to spend both productive and recreational time on a device. While many people, including myself, have spent hours scrolling through social media on their phones, scientists and engineers have been at work designing new technology.

COVID vaccines have arguably been the most important invention of 2020 and 2021. The Pfizer (BNT162b2), Moderna (mRNA-1273), and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ-78436735) vaccines are all fighting COVID-19 and its many mutations. John Hopkins’ COVID-19 map has been of tremendous help, allowing regular people a convenient and concise way of tracking COVID cases in deaths in a clear and direct manner.

Bitcoin stock, another example of technological advancements recently surged to around 60,000 dollars. Bitcoin was one of the first cryptocurrency, a digital asset stored in computerized databases used as a medium of exchange, a form of currency, as the name suggests. On March 24, Elon Musk announced that Tesla cars can now be bought with Bitcoin, possibly billowing in an era of digital currency. Amazon products can also be bought with Bitcoin through a third-party service with many other companies following in suit.

Another innovation created during the pandemic was GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3). GPT-3 uses deep learning to produce natural-sounding text. Many who have used GPT-3 found it surprisingly human-like with text that mimics speaking. However, this also opens the door to many rightful ethical concerns in misinformation and abuse. Currently, one of the biggest concerns is GPT-3’s tendency towards bigotry. GPT-3 source is the internet and it should come as no surprise that the internet is very much rampant with bigotry. Here are some examples of that. Despite the advancements GPT-3 has carried, it is still very unreliable in its misinformation and too volatile for anything other than very specific uses. While the sentence structures sound natural, the actual content often makes no sense. The ethics of this model are still being discussed. I strongly recommend further personal research if a person is interested in the many uses and misuses of this model.

The last 2 years have tested our resilience as well as put us on an increasing dependency on technology. As technology is improving and advancing, so must we.

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