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Drakkonis

Are We At A "Microsoft Moment"?

  
By:  Drakkonis  •  News  •  8 months ago  •  11 comments

Are We At A "Microsoft Moment"?
Inspiration is the mother of invention.

First, I know I misquoted the quote. It's actually "Necessity is the mother of invention" but given the subject matter I'm going to discuss, I altered it.

Second, by "Microsoft moment" I mean are we at a moment people actually realize how much an emerging thing is going to change everything?

Third, the credit for this post goes to Kavika, as it was something he said that inspired this.


"As I mentioned earlier Iran's drone capacity is huge and they have been supplying Russia with them and have caused huge amounts of damage in Ukraine. As Ukraine has shown us in their war with Russia the face of war has changed with the use of drones, both air and sea drones have damaged a large part of the Russia fleet and also destroyed a massive amount of tanks and IFV and arty."

While the "Microsoft moment" I am speaking of isn't about drones, per se, they are a good example of what I wish to discuss. Not how successful drones are in changing the face of warfare but, rather, how accessible such technology is to practically anyone. It was once the province of DARPA level funding to come up with such things but, no longer. With the advent of the 3D printer, CNC machines that are affordable to the average person, Arduinos, Raspberry Pi's, lasers, circuit boards to order and all the other related technologies, anyone can be the equivalent of Bill Gates. 

While these technologies may not directly explain Ukraine's success with drones, what is relevant is how accessible the technology behind them has become. Anyone with the desire to do so can gain the knowledge to build a nuclear weapon, but they can't actually build one for obvious reasons. Primarily, only sufficiently powerful governments have the resources to do so. This is no longer true of something like drones. If one wishes to, they can build a drone from scratch. The only barrier is commitment of effort. At this very moment the information necessary to build one is not only freely available to anyone, but the means to make it is nearly as accessible. One doesn't need DARPA levels of funding. One simply needs to be able to afford 3D printers, CNC machines, laser engravers and the like, all of which are becoming more and more affordable. 

The "Microsoft moment" is this. When Windows first came out, it was rather primitive compared to what it is now. Even so, it would be difficult to overstate the impact it has had. This is where I think we are, at this moment, concerning the common person being able to create whatever they can imagine, without the necessity of some corporate entity making it for them.

In science fiction writings there is a thing called a "fabricator". You dump raw materials in one end and out the other comes whatever you desire. Coffee maker, infantry weapon, satellite, dwellings for refugees. Whatever. 3D printing actually was a thing in the 80's but only recently has it become  an affordable reality for the average person. The capabilities between then and now are exponential and it's only going to increase. What impact will this have, economically, when you no longer have to go to some company when you can create what you need yourself? 

What do you think? 

Red Box Rules

Not sure how someone could insert Biden or Trump into this but please don't. 


 

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Drakkonis
Professor Guide
1  author  Drakkonis    8 months ago

Your thoughts? 

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Expert
2  Nerm_L    8 months ago

Well, I'm not sure I agree with the 'Microsoft moment' analogy.  Today's drone technology is actually an incremental progression of remote controlled hobby aircraft.  The technology has certainly become more accessible and capable but that doesn't really represent a disruptive change.  Keep in mind that guided missiles (cruise missiles) are a type of drone technology and militaries have been using that technology for decades.  (Military drones were used in Vietnam almost 70 years ago.  And CNC milling technology has been available for hobby use almost as long.)

To me the question is more about accessibility than about the technology.  

Also keep in mind that application of the technology requires more than just the drone technology itself.  The application would require navigation data, identification and location of targets, and purpose specific payload.  Without the secondary supporting information and technology drones remain a dangerous annoyance rather than a threat. 

 
 
 
Drakkonis
Professor Guide
2.1  author  Drakkonis  replied to  Nerm_L @2    8 months ago
To me the question is more about accessibility than about the technology.

That is, more or less, the point of my post. There is a huge amount of technology here, but it's the accessibility of it that matters. Take cars for example. A soccer mom getting in her car to go to work in the morning doesn't spare a second to consider the technology behind the car. It's just something taken for granted. I think that this is where we're headed concerning something like 3D printing. I think such tech will fundamentally change society. 

At the moment, it takes a relatively considerable amount of knowledge to print something useful, but as it develops, I think it will eventually progress to the point where printing something one needs will require about the same amount of effort as making coffee. It's doubtful that people would be able to print a car but imagine a business that could print one to order? 

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Expert
2.1.1  Nerm_L  replied to  Drakkonis @2.1    8 months ago
That is, more or less, the point of my post. There is a huge amount of technology here, but it's the accessibility of it that matters. Take cars for example. A soccer mom getting in her car to go to work in the morning doesn't spare a second to consider the technology behind the car. It's just something taken for granted. I think that this is where we're headed concerning something like 3D printing. I think such tech will fundamentally change society.  At the moment, it takes a relatively considerable amount of knowledge to print something useful, but as it develops, I think it will eventually progress to the point where printing something one needs will require about the same amount of effort as making coffee. It's doubtful that people would be able to print a car but imagine a business that could print one to order?

IMO one thing that has influenced accessibility is the plug 'n play nature of the technology.  There are growing libraries of models that are commercially available for 3D printing.  

To me the history of technological development suggests that accessibility is actually the disruptive factor.  Computers weren't really disruptive until they became widely accessible.  Accessibility led to creation of ancillary support services and technologies that further enhanced accessibility.  I remember when books of printed programs became popular after personal computers were first available.  Just type in the program from the book into the old Tandy and save onto a cassette tape. 

 
 
 
Drakkonis
Professor Guide
2.1.2  author  Drakkonis  replied to  Nerm_L @2.1.1    8 months ago
To me the history of technological development suggests that accessibility is actually the disruptive factor.  Computers weren't really disruptive until they became widely accessible. 

Indeed. (Oh, man! I absolutely love saying "indeed". Especially with the lift of one eyebrow)

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Expert
2.1.3  Nerm_L  replied to  Drakkonis @2.1.2    8 months ago
Indeed. (Oh, man! I absolutely love saying "indeed". Especially with the lift of one eyebrow)

Indubitably, my dear Drakk.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
3  TᵢG    8 months ago

The key mega threat that I have noted for two decades now is the inevitability of increasingly potent (and smaller) technologies being abused by individuals.   My original concern was bio — individuals poisoning / infecting entire communities.   Today we add on to this smaller bombs and cyber technology (software viruses through intelligent robots … including drones).

When limited to states there is some control and a realistic means of monitoring.   When the number of agents moves from states to individuals, we have a societal cancer.

 
 
 
Drakkonis
Professor Guide
3.1  author  Drakkonis  replied to  TᵢG @3    8 months ago
When limited to states there is some control and a realistic means of monitoring.   When the number of agents moves from states to individuals, we have a societal cancer.

If I remember correctly, a book by Frank Herbert, called "The white plague" suggests such. In it, he foresaw people being able to "print" plagues and cures. 

 
 
 
Drakkonis
Professor Guide
3.2  author  Drakkonis  replied to  TᵢG @3    8 months ago
The key mega threat that I have noted for two decades now is the inevitability of increasingly potent (and smaller) technologies being abused by individuals.

I can see that. I have had the same concern for about the same amount of time. 

“Many of the dangers we face indeed arise from science and technology—but, more fundamentally, because we have become powerful without becoming commensurately wise. The world-altering powers that technology has delivered into our hands now require a degree of consideration and foresight that has never before been asked of us.”
― Carl Sagan,
 
 
 
Snuffy
Professor Participates
4  Snuffy    8 months ago

If it's a Microsoft moment, then what are we waiting for?  Will somebody please give the old three-fingered salute and reboot this damn place!!!

 
 
 
Drakkonis
Professor Guide
4.1  author  Drakkonis  replied to  Snuffy @4    8 months ago

LOL