Is the ancient Greek philosopher Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, and this is no less valid in the world of IT.
The first machine, which resembled a modern-day computer, was created by Charles Babbage in 1822. His application? He wanted to build a machine that was capable of computing mathematical problems.
Since then, of course, computers can do a lot more and can be used for many more applications. We are continually becoming more and more dependent on IT-enabled devices for carrying out simple tasks, such as remembering a phone number, to complex ones, like flying an aeroplane. IT has applications in almost all aspects of our life. We’ll look at some of those below:
Science and engineering
Nowadays, scientific progress in fields like biotechnology is almost completely dependent on computer-use or other similar microprocessor-controlled devices. Meteorologists predict future weather by using a combination of observations of weather conditions, the behaviour of the mathematically-represented atmosphere and geographic data. Computer-aided design (CAD) and Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) have led to improved products in many fields, especially those where designs are very complex and detailed. Computers make it possible for engineers to analyse designs of complex structures like power plants and space stations.
Business and commerce
Once of the largest applications of IT is keeping and managing business and financial records. Most companies keep records of all their workers in large databases that are managed by computer programs. Similar programs are used in business functions like billing, tracking payments made or received, and tracking supplies produced, stored, shipped and sold. Almost all financial transactions are done electronically.
When IT came into place, this changed the meaning of the term “literate”. Computer literacy is almost as important as basic literacy nowadays. In fact, computer education is a course that is done at the primary level of school in most countries across the world. Also, students are relying more and more on online courses and electronic sources of information rather than the classical teacher-and-classroom and physical libraries. Classical instinctual methodology has also undergone a big change with more usage of images, animations, videos, presentations and e-learning to complement traditional techniques.
The computerisation of government activities makes it easier to supervise and audit, and makes administration more responsive to the needs of society. It also bridges the divide between a country’s government and its people. Touch-screen kiosks help disseminate information on land records, photo ID cards, pending bills etc. Illiterate people can take more informed decisions using these technologies.
IT plays a very important role in medicine. As an example, a scanner takes a series of pictures of the body by means of CAT or MRI scans. It is the computer that then combines the pictures to produce detailed 3D images of the body’s organs. Also, MRI produces images showing changes in body chemistry and blood flow. Most critical life-support equipment is programmed to respond to changes in the patient’s status in microseconds, thus reducing human error and response time. Robotic surgery helps specialists to perform surgeries from remote locations.
Various technologies have created a multitude of options for entertainment like games, streaming music and video, digital television, satellite TV and radio, animated movies etc. These, in turn, can be accessed with the help of mobile phones, PDAs, notebooks, televisions; either cabled or wirelessly.
There is hardly anyone in this world that has not been affected by IT in some way. Newer applications of IT are being developed every day which will further increase our interaction and dependence on IT-enabled devices. Therefore, understanding IT and using it creatively is imperative to human progress.