The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Technology of Tomorrow: What teachers expect from future advancements

As humanity’s technological goals grow, the time it’ll take to achieve them seems vast. However, the technology of the future is a lot closer than it seems. Even if time travel is still far in the future, almost equally impactful breakthroughs are just around the corner.



AP Computer Science teacher David Greenstein recalls his first memory of technology was a teletype, a digital variation of a typewriter. He typed things on it, and it started typing back at him. To then high school sophomore Greenstein, this was cool.

“You could type something on it, and then it would start typing stuff back to you,” Greenstein said. “I thought that was so cool that I wanted to know everything about computers.”

After graduating from college, Greenstein built his own computer, from the operating system to the computer hardware. Following the interest that started with the teletype, he continued to pursue technology. Today, Greenstein still holds this same interest in technology, but his interest is not quite as recreational as before.

Times change. Now, Greenstein’s interest in technology focuses on how technology can help others, not just entertain.

“Technology for medicine, technology for being able to grow food in places that you would never think that you can grow food, being able to provide clean watering systems for people in places that never had any clean water before,” Greenstein said. “Those are the technologies that interest me these days.”

In particular, Greenstein looks to future technology to alleviate the growing issue of fresh water shortages, such as advances in irrigation and watering systems. For example, he points to recently developed sensors that can cheaply irrigate crops only when needed.

“We’re either going to have to live differently, or we’re going to have move,” Greenstein said. “So the technology for allowing us to survive in the future is, I think it’s all going to center around how we get clean, fresh water.”

DNA — a tiny part of a tiny cell. Yet, studying it has been, historically, a long, arduous and expensive pursuit. People needed huge labs, huge amounts of money and huge amounts of time. But over the last couple of years, the need for all that has dwindled away. With new technology like CRISPR kits, all people need are around $150 and a garage and they’re set to start splitting and splicing DNA however they please. The power to study the human genome is now here — in countless small labs and garages — but biology teacher Lora Lerner’s question is where that will lead.

“It’s definitely going to expand very quickly,” Lerner said. “Probably faster than people really understand the implications of it.”

As gene editing technology expands, the ability to control it may start slipping out of our hands. Genome testing has become cheaper and CRISPR kits have become more precise, meaning that not only will a majority of the public be able to partake in gene editing but they will also be able to do it with impressive accuracy, even if they’re not skilled scientists.

“The ability to change things, whether that’s a good idea or not, is going to be very easy and very decentralized,” Lerner said. “That is something that is worrisome to me because ideally, we would be having societal discussions over if this is a good idea to be changing people in this way.”

“The ability to change things, whether that’s a good idea or not, is going to be very easy and very decentralized” – Lora Lerner

Regardless of whether people have these conversations or not, Lerner doesn’t think there are many ways to stop this technology from growing. The potential applications of genetic editing is already growing, from manipulating cancer patients’ immune cells into attacking their cancer to sterilizing mosquitos in order to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases. The technology even has applications to the general public, as genome sequencing opens up a variety of possibilities, including the creation of personalized medicine. With such a versatile array of uses and open accessibility, scientists are both hesitant and enthusiastic about the technology’s rapid development. What could mean an end to genetic disorders could also mean mutated animals and genetically engineered babies. But Lerner believes that the most important takeaway from seeing this industry grow is to understand how each and every person fits into the puzzle.

“It needs to be something for all of us to think about, whether we’re scientists or not — just as people, and family, and citizens, and consumers and all the different roles you can play,” Lerner said.

It’s an unavoidable truth for former machinists: those jobs are never coming back. The sole teacher in the Industrial Technology department, Ted Shinta, used to be a machinist. But now, in a process called automation, machines do most of Shinta’s former work. As Shinta watches automation develop, he sees efficiency, accuracy and consistency improving, and out of the corner of his eye, he sees the number of technical workers shrink.

As computers, materials, engineering and networking continue to advance, Shinta predicts a rapid increase in our ability to automate. Though automation has been around for centuries, advances such as self-driving cars and smarter homes stand as proof of automation’s continued impact. Aside from the well-known automated consumer products, automation is also taking control of the workplace in the form of automatic assembly lines and tools. In fact, MVHS uses an Energy Management System that allows staff to control the school’s functions by simply pushing a few buttons.

“People won’t have to do mundane, boring jobs [in the future],” Shinta said. “And automation tends to be more productive, costs less overall and things actually are done more accurately, more consistently.“

Concerning the political movement to bring manufacturing back to the U.S., Shinta believes that the reality will be much different from what people expect. Rather than flocks of Americans rushing to work as machinists and assembly line workers, the American manufacturing scene may more closely resemble rooms of machines monitored by a handful of skilled technicians and engineers.

According to Shinta, many positions that formerly needed highly skilled workers can now be done by computers. So jobs now considered to have high skill or education requirements may be greatly or completely automated in the future. Shinta sees hints that in the far future, even jobs such as construction will be automated. As automation continues to advance, it becomes difficult to predict the extent to which machines will replace people. Instead, Shinta suggests that education, and the versatility it allows, will help people avoid being completely replaced by automated machines.

“Nobody can rest anymore,” Shinta said.

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