- Posted by Sejal
- On October 22, 2016
The cloud is driving an explosion of innovation with tremendous social, scientific, and business benefits. New collaboration models are changing the way people fund projects, launch businesses, and work together. For instance, Easy access to enormous computing power is allowing both large companies and small start-ups with limited resources to test their discoveries. The real impact of the cloud is about democratization and equality. It is about giving people a voice, and also the power to get things done.
The cloud is already impacting our lives in many important ways, and interesting trends are taking shape across wide areas of society.
The following are some examples of what I mean;
- Closing the digital divide
One Laptop per Child was a model trapped in the past that’s been leaped in a technology jump with the developing world leading the way. It’s similar to telephone land lines, which are universal in the developed world but don’t exist in much of the developing world and probably never will. Rather than building a land line infrastructure that’s become outdated, countries are going directly to mobile because it’s a much cheaper and easier way to provide coverage.
The cloud provides a similar wholesale leap over the PC model on which OLPC was based. Rather than a specific laptop design with many technical constraints, now all what needed is access to the web, and an endless variety of free software is at anyone’s fingertips. However, An access and display device is still needed, but these devices (i.e., mobile phones) are everywhere, and they’re constantly getting smarter, faster, cheaper, and more versatile.
- Communication: everyone gets a voice
The cloud has tip over traditional communication models, and the world is changing as a result. In the past, communications was one-to-many, whether for newspapers, radio, TV. It was the way companies give information about their products and governments communicated with the public.
Today the model has been inverted: now we have many-to-one communication (think Twitter and Facebook), where the page owner can issue a message, and hundreds, thousands or millions of people can respond. The result is a new transparency as people communicate with politicians, pop stars and anyone on the public stage in a very open way.
One example in the year of 2014 was the U.S. debt ceiling crisis, where politicians shared their thoughts on social media. In the past they would have met behind closed doors until the deal was done; this time they used Facebook and Twitter daily to make their case to the public, and measured the reaction before the next meeting.
Whether that approach is good or bad may depend on which side of the debate you’re on, but it’s another example of how the cloud is changing the way we interact, with very real consequences.
- Education: innovative instruction without barriers
Another area where the cloud is making an impact is education, where innovative teaching tools and reference materials allow educators to expanse their resources. For example, consider a tool like GoogleEarth – it’s not just a geography resource; students and teachers can add to it with pictures and links from their community.
It’s also possible for anyone with an Internet connection to get high-quality instruction at any level. One great example is the Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org ), dedicated to providing “a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.” With thousands of educational videos, along with tests and teaching aids, it’s the largest collection of instruction on the Internet..
Khan Academy is another example of democratization enabled by the cloud, allowing people from an underdeveloped region (or anyone who would otherwise not have the opportunity) to get superior educational material at no cost. Greater awareness is another benefit: in the past, discovering these instructional videos would be a slow, uneven process, typically involving physically attending conferences, or word of mouth. Today, thanks to social media, a great resource can quickly go viral, allowing students and educators to discover it on a massive scale.
- Science and engineering: speed to market for breakthrough products
Years ago in an electrical engineering lab, circuits would be found everywhere. Today, in any engineering lab regardless of specialty, it is more likely to see racks of computers since the complexity of today’s scientific and engineering problems is far beyond the capabilities of traditional tools. Breakthroughs are based on modeling and simulation that require massive amounts of computing power. The cloud provides ready access to that power, on a highly efficient pay-as-you-go basis.
This flexibility can be crucial for product development, as well as the fortunes of the company driving it.
One example is the development of breakthrough drugs, where every day can represent millions of Euros in sales and recovery of investment. If a pharmaceutical company needs to simulate how a promising new medication interacts with 16 million proteins, the analysis could run for weeks on their internal systems, tying up resources at enormous cost. The public cloud provides an alternative, giving scientists access to hundreds or thousands of servers, for a day, a week, or as long as they’re needed.
Cloud computing is advancing scientific progress in another way. Immense processing performance is now within reach for any small research team or individual with a brilliant design they want to bring to life. The cloud democratizes computing performance, and everyone benefits.
- Community: crowds at work
There’s a community aspect to the cloud that’s changing the way products are designed, projects are funded, and work gets done. This is the concept of crowd sourcing, enabling new forms of collaboration for people who share a common interest or passion, without geographic constraints.
One example would be the yep Program, a marketplace that’s connect students that have just finished their studies or unemployed people to find a job. Another example is Instagram contest. Winners will get $30,000. Read more here http://time.com/3849460/instagram-grant-getty-images/
Past and Present
As such, every one of us can remember the early days of computing, where everyone had a ‘terminal’ that was connected to a CPU for processing and storage.
Now the pendulum has shifted again, with data, applications, and computing power re centralized to make those resources available to everyone. But unlike in the past, the cloud allows users – individual, companies, and global communities – almost unlimited creativity in how they how take advantage of it.
The result is an explosion of innovation with tremendous social, scientific, and business benefits. The most exciting thing is that the developments described here are just the beginning.