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Converging technologies for improving human performance is in essence a 2002 report that was commissioned by the U.S. National Science Foundation and Department of commerce. The report consists of commentaries and descriptions on the state of the science and technology of the combined of biotechnology, nanotechnology , cognitive science and information technology in general. The main aim of the report was to evaluate the potential use of technologies to improve health and how to overcome disabilities. In addition, it took a look at how human improvement on technology especially in the military and in rationalization of the human machine interface in an industrial setting. Thus it is said that by understanding the brain and mind, it will lead to the creation of a new species of intelligent machine systems that would generate economic wealth on a scale until now that is unimaginable. Within half a century, very intelligent machines will be in a position to create wealth that is needed to provide food, shelter and clothing which are the basic needs. Furthermore, they will also provide medical care, a very clean environment to live in and both physical and financial security for the entire population existing in the world. In general, intelligent machines will eventually generate the production capacity to support universal prosperity and financial security for all human beings which will be a good thing.
Convergent technologies simply refers to the synergy combination of at least four major provinces of science and technology, that is nano-bio-info-cogno (NBIC) (Miller, 2008). The NBIC is progressing at a very high rate. It was during the early decades of the 21st century that saw concentrated efforts unifying science that were based on the unity of nature thus leading to a combination of nanotechnology, information technology, biotechnology and other latest technologies that are mostly based on cognitive science. I strongly believe that if societal needs and ethical issues are given adequate and proper attention then converging technologies could lead to an improvement in human societal outcomes and their abilities. In addition the nation's productivity and the general quality of life will increase. This is a clear and good sign that technological convergent is good and should be encouraged at all costs.
Bringing together the different technologies is actually based on the material unity that is at the nanoscale and on the technology of integration found on that particular scale (Ach, 2008). Most of the building blocks of matter that are fundamental and basic to science actually originate from the nanoscale. The revolutionary advances that are taking place at the interfaces between the initially separated fields of technology and science are ready to create major transforming tools for the NBIC technologies (Gillam, 2010). For the first time in history, it is now easy to understand the natural world, scientific research and the human society due to the developments in systems and approaches in association with NBIC. At this particular moment, the evolution of technical achievement has lead to improvement of human performance since it has been integrated with technology thus making work easier, comfortable and less tasking. The outcome of this is improved learning and efficiency at work. In addition, it has led to an improvement in the cognitive capabilities in an individual and changes in the healthcare sector.
Cloud computing has become the modern phrase in the world of computers which has different definitions to different people (Miller, 2008). Cloud computing is a metaphor for the internet. The cloud is a common name which when it is combined with the word computing its meaning gets even fuzzier and bigger than we expect. Some of the analysts define cloud computing as an updated version of utility computing. This in actual sense is just virtual servers that are available over the internet. Others have given it a wider and broader meaning saying that anytime you consume anything that is outside the firewall is in the cloud which includes the conventional outsourcing.
It tries to describe computation, data access software and data storage services that do not necessarily require the end user knowledge of the where about so f the physical location and configuration of the systems that delivers the services. Just to give an example, electricity users usually use electricity but do not in actual sense know the components or devices that are used to supply the electricity. In addition, they do not know the exact location of the power station. It is a natural evolution and the widespread adoption of virtualization, autonomic, utility computing, service oriented architecture. More often than not, the most important details are usually hidden from the end users because they do not have the expertise and professionalism in the systems of cloud computing (Gillam, 2010). Therefore, in general we can say that cloud computing is describing a new consumption, supplement and delivery model for IT services that are based on Internet protocols. It typically involves the provision of dynamic scalable and virtualized resources. In simple terms it is a product that results to the ease of access to remote computing sites that are provided by the internet. It often takes the form of web based tools and applications that users can access and use via a browser as if it were program that has been installed locally on their computers.
Cloud computing will actually come into focus when you are thinking about what IT always needs i.e. ways of increasing the capacity, adding capabilities on the fly without putting in more efforts in new infrastructure, training of new personnel or lastly licensing of newly acquired software (Gillam, 2010). More often than not, it actually includes any subscription based or pay per use service. In real time over the internet actually extends the IT's existing capabilities and opportunities.
Cloud computing is still at an early stage with an assorted crew of providers both large and small who deliver cheap cloud based services from the full blown applications to the storage services and spam filtering (Gillam, 2010). It therefore goes without say that utility style infrastructure providers are part and parcel of the mix. There are providers who come into play such as the Salesforce.com with software as a service (SaaS). In the modern world today, IT must plug into cloud based services individually though there are cloud computing aggregators and integrators who are already emerging and coming up with new technologies. InfoWorld has talked to dozens of vendors, IT customers and analysts so that it teases out the various components that are involved in cloud computing (Gillam, 2010).
Cloud computing therefore involves the following: SaaS, Utility computing, web services in the cloud,platform as a service, managed service providers, service commerce platforms etc.
In this type of cloud, computing basically delivers only one application through the browser to many thousands of customers who are using a multitenant architecture. On the customers' side, it simply means that there is no upfront investment in servers or software licensing while on the provider's side with only one app to maintain, the costs are actually low as compared to the normal conventional hosting. It is believed that Salesforce.com is one of the best known examples among enterprise applications although SaaS is more popular for HR apps and has found its way up to the food chain to ERP in association with players like workday.
2. Utility computing
This idea is not new though this form of cloud computing is getting a new life from sites such as amazon.com, IBM, sun among others who offer storage and virtual servers that IT in general can access easily mostly on demand. The early enterprise adopters mainly used utility computing for their non-mission critical and supplemental needs. Some analysts say that it will one day takeover or replace parts of the datacenters that exist today (Miller, 2008). There are other providers who offer solutions that help IT to create virtual datacenters that are mostly from commodity servers like 3Tera's AppLogic and Cohesive flexible technologies.
3. Web services in the cloud
A web service in the cloud is almost and closely related to SaaS. It offers APIs that enable most of the developers to exploit full functionality of the internet rather than trying to deliver full blown applications.
4. Platforms as a service
In this form of cloud computing, it mostly delivers development environments as a service. This is to say that you build your own applications that will run on the provider's infrastructure and are directly delivered to your users through the internet from the servers of the providers (Miller, 2008). Just like Legos, these services are in essence limited by the vendor's design and capabilities thus limited freedom although one is able to get the pre integration and the predictability.
5. Managed service providers
It is among the oldest forms of cloud computing. It is simply an application that is exposed to IT rather than to the end user. They include things like virus scanning services for emails of or application monitoring service. Services provided by secureworks, Verizon and IBM are some of the examples that managed security services deliver.
6. Service commerce platforms
This is a combination of hybrid SaaS and MSP. This service offers a service hub where users interact from. They are mostly common where there is some sort of trading, for instance the expense management system where the users can make travel orders or secretarial services that are from a common platform which then coordinates the delivery of the service and its pricing within the specifications that have been made by the specific user (Ach, 2008).
7. Internet integration
The integration of cloud based services is in its initial stages. OpSource that serves SaaS providers recently introduced the Opsource Services Bus. This service employs in the cloud integration technology little startup that is called Boomi. Saas provider Workday, acquired another player within this space that is CapeClear, enterprise service bus provider going towards the b to b integration.
It therefore goes without say that today with the current cloud based interconnection that's rarely in evidence, cloud computing might accurately be defined as sky computing with so many isolated clouds of services that IT customers must plug into individually (Ach, 2008). As SOA and virtualization are coming into existence, then the idea of loosely coupled services are running on agile and scalable infrastructure which will make every enterprise a node in the cloud. Analysts say that it's a long running trend with a far out horizon although with the big metatrends then cloud computing is the hardest one to argue with in the long run.
Some of the major themes that policy makers and scientific leaders across a range of different fields evaluated the potential impact of NBIC technologies on improving human capabilities at the group, individual, microscopic and societal levels (Gillam, 2010). There different areas that were examined and found to be relevant. First and foremost was the overall potential of converging technologies. The representatives within the private sector and the government agencies decided to explore the potential of converging technologies and other necessary research needs in order to improve human performance and the overall potential for revolutionary changes within the economy and the society at large. They identified that the synergistic development of nano, bio, information and cognition based technologies provided an outstanding opportunity at the frontier and interface of sciences and engineering for human development. Thus they came up with new visions for what they could achieve. They also identified that expanding human cognition and communication (Miller, 2008). This was given a high priority to the human cognomen project which is a multidisciplinary effort to try and understand the functions, structure and potential enhancements of the human mind. Other areas that were given priority include the personal sensory device interface, learning how to learn, humanized technology and enhanced tools for creativity. On improving human health and physical capabilities, six key areas have been identified, nano-bio processors for development and research including those that come from bioinformatics, proteomics and genomics (Ach, 2008). Nanotechnology that is based on implants and regenerative biosystems that will be used as replacements for human organs or for monitoring of physiological well being of an individual. Others areas include, enhancing group and societal outcomes where the barriers of communication will be removed. These barriers include language barrier, geographical distance and the variation in knowledge of individuals. National security, following the radically ever changing nature of conflicts in the new century, it goes without say that the slightest opportunity should be taken to strengthen the national defense that is offered by the technological convergence deserves more priority. Last but not least was the issue of unifying science and education. In order to meet the coming modern challenges and scientific educational needs, then there must be radical transformations from the elementary school through the postgraduate training program. The convergence of the initial separate disciplines and fields of engineering cannot take place without the emergence of new generations and new people who understand different fields in depth and can intelligently and easily work to integrate them together. Therefore, development of new concepts will provide intellectual coherence and create new forms of educational institutions which are highly necessary (Miller, 2008).
There is a high possibility of identifying a number of areas that are fundamental for scientific research that will have great significance over the next coming like twenty years for technological convergence that would improve human performance (Ach, 2008). These key areas illustrate how the progress on one of the NBIC fields can be energized and improved by inputs and efforts from other people:
There is need of new categories of devices, systems and materials that are needed to be used in the manufacturing, construction, medicine, new emerging technologies, scientific research among others. Nanotechnology is clearly the top on this category although information technology plays a very important role in both design and research of the structure and properties of materials in relation to the design of the complex molecular microscale structures that have been put in place. One particular point that has been pointed out is that industries in the future will use engineered biological processes to manufacture valuable new materials. It is also true and a fact when it is said that the fundamental knowledge of the molecular level processes that are mandatory to the growth of metabolism and growth of living cells may be applied (Gillam, 2010). This is done through the use of analogy to the development of new inorganic materials. Living cell which happens to be the most complex known form of matter with a system of components and other processes that are operating at the nanoscale is another thing that will have to be looked into. The basic functions and properties are usually established at the first level of the organization of biosystems at the nanoscale (Miller, 2008). Recent works done at the intersection of biotechnology and microelectronics called the gene on a chip approach suggests that a combination of nanotechnology, computer science and biotechnology is in a position to create a bionano processor for programming of complex biological pathways that will emulate cellular processes on a chip (Ach, 2008). The other research methodologies might come from the ongoing work that tries to understand how genes are expressed in the living body as physical structures and chemical activities. The use of augmented and virtual reality computer technology allows scientist to visualize the cell from inside as it were and be in a position to see exactly what they are doing as they manipulate individual protein molecules and cellular nanostructures.
In conclusion, it therefore goes without say that convergence technology is good and should be taken seriously in order to improve and better the living standards of human beings. As we have seen its advantages are far much more as compared to its advantages. Thus the intelligent machines may eventually generate and enhance the production capacity that would support the whole universe plus overseeing its prosperity and ensuring its financial security for all the human species under the sun. it is therefore important for us to note that the engineering of the mind is far much more greater than the pursuit of scientific curiosity. It is more than just a mere monumental technological challenge. This is an opportunity that aims at eradicating poverty and ushering in the golden age for all human beings in the world. Cloud computing has played a major role in simplifying and making the world of IT easier. This is because one can access information from wherever and whenever he or she requires it. Cloud computing has also made the storage of information to be central, easy and well organized. It has provided companies with an opportunity and avenue to store large and huge amounts of information in a secure and safe place. Nonetheless, there are other risks that are involved but we have to appreciate the new and latest technological advancements that are taking place and on going.