– WHAT DOES THE CHIP MEAN TO YOU? –
Massive and unreliable, the first computers of thirty years ago are as dead as the dinosaur. Today, computers are 30,000 times smaller and 10,000 times cheaper. High-speed, low-cost computing power has begun to convert science fiction into reality.
What will the world of tfce future be like? Here are some ideas to consider: A divided society? The coming of the microelectronics will benefit many people: others may be left behind. People at risk are those who can’t afford to use new technology, or who can’t understand it. Something can be done for both groups – public viewdata terminals can give free access to information, and new machines, including computers, can be made easy to use, only if time, money and care are spent on programming them.
Variety or uniformity?
Will we be surrounded by an enormous variety of products? Or will the result of microelectronics be cheap uniformity? Either of these is possible. The main factor is the cost of writing programmes. If the cost remains high, the same product will have to be made in large quantities – in order to spread the cost. To get variety, programming costs need to come down.
There are signs that this may happen: some manufacturers are now using chips which can be cheaply programmed for simple functions. Goodbye humans? It is quite likely that, with the increasing use of computers people will work at home and do their banking and shopping at home. The result of tuis could be an introverted and immobile society, where individuals live in their private world of video games and computer holograms.
On the other hand, people seem to need human contact, and to enjoy the social aspects of office life and escaping from their homes. Beyond the human brain? A simple electronic calculator goes far – beyond the human brain in speed and accuracy but only in a very closely defined field.
In the future, computers will be better than humans in more and more ways. It is predicted by some people that the intellectual capabilities of the human brain will be overtaken in the early years of the next century.
If this happens, we will no longer be the most 35 intelligent beings on the planet. No one knows how we would deal with this unpleasant situation successfully.
Mark the best choice.
1. Line 36, ‘this unpleasant situation’ means
a) the loss of speed and accuracy b) electronic calculators working faster
c) humans losing their intelligence d) not being the most intelligent any more
2. Early computers .
a) changed science fiction into reality b) were very big and you could not depend on them
c) were produced at a low cost d) had the same computing power as the modern ones
3. Computers can become easy to use .
a) when people have free access to information b) if a great amount of money is spent
c) when public viewdata terminals are built d) if they are programmed properly
4. All products are likely to become very similar to each other unless
a) large quantities of the same product are made b) the cost of writing programmes falls
c) uncomplicated chips are used for programming d) the public demands variety
5. According to the text, may be a negative result of the widespread use of computers.
a) increased popularity of video games b) a lack of contact among people
c) easier banking and shopping d) people escaping from their homes
6. Which of the following is not true?
a) Some people may not be able to benefit f»om mic? electronics for several reasons.
b) Social aspects of office life are important to man.
c) The new kind of chips cannot be cheaply programmed for simple functions.
d) The capacity of electronic calculators is limited.