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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

HP - Global future on our doorstep

It all felt a bit Doctor Who, but this is in fact Hewlett Packard just near Filton, and I was looking at the Cloud Technology they are developing. I also came to talk about the science outreach programmes they are doing in our local schools and how crucial it is to inspire our next generation of scientists.

Driving towards the ring road, out of Filton, it is easy to forget that research and development of international significance is going on here, pushing forward with virtual management systems handling ever more data.

If you think back over the last decade or so, the technological advances have been extraordinary. When I first started University in 1997 (hey, it's not THAT long ago!), email was a bit new-fangled and I wasn't sure I trusted it, very few people did anything but hand-write all their essays and my mobile phone was a bit of a brick and did not have a text capacity. By the time I finished in 2001, there was suddenly a whole host of things I couldn't live without - internet, search engines, texting... and it's tempting to think that we've seen the biggest acceleration of technology. There is no reason why this should be the case. At places like HP, research is ever pushing forward.

At the moment I don't have an i-pad. I'm guessing in a few years time, I'll be either wondering how I ever lived without one, or even be marveling at how cumbersome, slow and prehistoric i-pads actually were...

It's incredibly exciting to be living in a digital revolution that is possibly changing the face of our existence as much as the Industrial Revolution, and for some of this research and development to be taking place in Bristol itself.

And particularly fascinating is the effect that all this virtuality, and all the instant-gratification an on-line world brings will have on our society, our ideas of ourselves and reality, our notion of action and consequence... that's an issue which will effect our politics possibly just as much as the effects of the industrial revolution.