Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Letter From The Editor - Rita Makhoul Manag­ing Ed­i­tor @ram­pur­ple

It’s an ex­tremely ex­cit­ing time to be a part of the technology in­dus­try, since many revo­lu­tion­ary tech­nolo­gies are be­ing de­vel­oped, in­clud­ing self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles, smart houses, in­ter­net­con­nected equip­ment, the power of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, as well as all the end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties that th­ese cre­ate. Even space travel has got­ten ex­cit­ing again!

Thanks to my brother (holla!), I grew up watching a lot of sci-fi movies and se­ries, such as Star Trek: The Next Gen­er­a­tion, 2001: The Space Odyssey, Back to the Fu­ture, Tron, and of course the en­tire Star Wars film se­ries… oh, and The Jet­sons! Back in the 80s, when we were watching sci-fi, all the tech­nolo­gies seemed like pure fan­tasy. I mean, come on, we were still learn­ing BA­SIC pro­gram­ming on a Sin­clair ZX Spec­trum +2 at school, al­beit it was re­ally cool to cre­ate a 2D ro­bot whose hands I could an­i­mate. (For those too young to be fa­mil­iar with what a Sin­clair is, well, it was an 8-bit per­sonal com­puter).

Look­ing at the world to­day, it’s as­ton­ish­ing to see how many sci-fi in­ven­tions have come to re­al­ity, from things such as video call­ing, to self-driv­ing cars, to clean­ing robots, air-touch tech, 3D print­ing, bio­met­rics, and so much more. Technology is de­vel­op­ing so rapidly, and we’ve come such a long way from the Sin­clair, fax ma­chines, and huge brick mo­bile phones. Technology is every­where, unavoid­able, and im­por­tant for ev­ery­one. From smart­phones, to on­line shop­ping, to fund trans­fers, to tak­ing a cab, technology is im­pact­ing ev­ery­thing we do in our lives.

It re­ally isn’t dif­fi­cult to see the changes that faster mi­cro­pro­ces­sors and net­works have wrought. Take a look at your smart­phone for a moment and let the fol­low­ing sink in: your phone is more pow­er­ful than the main­frame com­puter that landed the Apollo space­craft on the moon more than four decades ago.

How­ever, as ad­vanced technology prop­a­gates across the world, the never-end­ing riv­et­ing de­bate con­tin­ues on whether the im­pact of technology ben­e­fits the hu­man race or if it brings more dis­ad­van­tages. Is there a down­side to the ubiq­ui­tous and seam­less con­nec­tiv­ity that smart technology grants us? Will the in­tel­li­gence of ma­chines ex­ceed that of hu­mans? What if the ma­chine wasn’t benev­o­lent? Is Stephen Hawk­ing right to ex­pect the end of the hu­man race be­cause peo­ple won’t be able to com­pete with ad­vanced AI?

Are there any right or wrong an­swers to th­ese ques­tions? I think not. As long as we keep ask­ing ques­tions and con­sciously progress and em­brace this fast pace of change, we will be fine. No­body re­ally has the an­swers but we’ll fig­ure them out to­gether. Af­ter all, isn’t technology col­lab­o­ra­tive by na­ture? In­di­vid­u­als with di­verse skills and ex­pe­ri­ences get to­gether to find a so­lu­tion to a prob­lem – sounds pretty col­lab­o­ra­tive to me.

What bet­ter way to ex­pe­ri­ence this fast-paced in­dus­try than to be a part of it?

It’s my wish that The Quar­terly will be­come an es­sen­tial part of your pro­fes­sional life, a re­source that you de­pend on to keep up with the rapidly evolv­ing world of dig­i­tal technology. As al­ways, I hope you en­joy this is­sue, and do let me know if there are any top­ics you would like to see cov­ered in the fu­ture.

Un­til next time!

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