This week, we spoke with Praescient employees from three different generations, Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z, to talk about the most surprising technical development that occurred within their lifetime and what they admire the most about their fellow Generational colleagues. See their responses and how certain technological advancements impacted their lives below!
Baby Boomer Generation
According to Shayne Sullivan, Director of Business Development and Capture, there were multiple surprising technological advancements that occurred in his lifetime. But, the two that really stood out were the Polio Vaccine and the invention of Optical Fiber used in fiber optic communication.
Speaking on the Polio Vaccine, Sullivan says, “I was diagnosed with Polio when I was about 6 months old and had it until I was almost 6. In 1953, there were 58,000 new cases reported in the United States, and more than 3,000 died from the disease.” Polio immobilized Sullivan for about 28 months of his life, being paralyzed for about 18 months. Around 2 to 10 out of every 100 people who developed paralysis from poliovirus infection die, as the virus affects the muscles that help them breathe. Sullivan stated that “even children who seem to fully recover can develop new muscle pain, weakness, or paralysis as adults, 15 to 40 years later. This is called post-polio syndrome.”
Regarding the invention of Optical Fiber, Sullivan talks about how it was more superior to other forms of communication. He described how optical fiber transmitters are capable of sending up to 10 billion bits of information per second. Sullivan also discussed the importance of the optical fiber and how it is used today, “Optical Fiber permits digital data transmission over longer distances and at higher data rates than electronic communication. They are also used to form sensors, and in a variety of other applications.”
Moving into Integrated Circuits (ICs), Shayne explains that “(ICs) are now used in virtually all electronic equipment and have revolutionized the world of electronics. Computers, mobile phones, and other digital home appliances are now inextricable parts of the structure of modern societies, made possible by the small size and low cost of ICs. The first general-purpose computer, the nearly 30-ton ENIAC (1947), contains 18,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors, and 10,000 capacitors. In 1959, the integrated circuit put those innards on one tiny chip.”
Finally, when asked about what he admires most about his fellow generational colleges, Sullivan says “that they are still in awe and learning things every day.”
When speaking to Katie Crotty, Praescient’s amazing CEO, she reflected back on her days in high school where she learned to write on a typewriter. She explained, “It’s incredibly humbling that I would eventually grow up to found a Data Analytics firm dedicated to advancing the technical capacity of the United States Government. This field continues to be incredibly exciting, with advancements that are changing the face of how we live every day.”
Crotty also talked about how she grew up with a 3-channel TV and an 8-ft long chord on the telephone, for privacy, as the most exciting technology in the house. Now, she says that having the power of both — and so much more — in the palm of her hand is such a revolutionary idea, “the fact that it’s happened in my lifetime is truly inspirational and proves that the limit to advancements is only limited by one’s imagination.”
When asked about what she admires about her fellow generational colleagues, she explained that as she’s in the cusp years between Gen X and Millennials, she got the benefit of both generations. “I think there is something inherently American in my Gen Xers’ belief that if you work hard and stay dedicated you can achieve amazing things, this mentality gets me through a lot of challenges.” Additionally, she also admires the freedom of thought in Millennials, who talk of ideas that change the world and how we live in it. She says, “I think with both Gen X’s traditional dedication to duty, and Millennial’s tradition of breaking ground makes for a very exciting future we’re building.”
We also talked with Bryce Leech, a Praescient Analyst Consultant, who feels that the most revolutionary and surprising technological advancement was the Apple iPod. When looking back at his first time getting an iPod, Leech said “I had never experienced a screen you could interact with like that, and the options of how to use it seemed limitless.” It wasn’t until high school that Leech realized the profound impact that companies like Microsoft and Apple had in advancing technology and creating a space for competition that we see today, “Their platforms have allowed for creativity beyond what was likely thought possible.”
When talking about other millennials Leech said, “for the most part, I believe we have found a good middle ground of living life in the moment but also planning for the future. We have been shaped by the tides of globalization, and for better or for worse, we now have to adapt to changing trends and especially confront the ethical questions of technology perhaps more quickly than previous generations. That said, I believe my generation has the wherewithal to find solutions.”
For Ellie Kervick, an Analyst Consultant at Praescient, the most surprising technological advancement in her lifetime was the rise of both smartphones and social media. These technologies took off when Kervick was in her early teens, so it’s hard for her to imagine what life would look like without it. She says, “both of these technologies completely changed the way people go about their day-to-day lives. The fact that you can be instantly connected to someone on the other side of the world is really quite incredible when you think about it. Being constantly in touch with your network definitely has its benefits, but I would love to go back to the days of snail mail and see what it’s like.”
When asked about what she admires most about her fellow generational colleagues, Kervick explains that it is their ability to take their unique perspectives and apply them to new situations. “We value having voices from each generation in the room during brainstorming and thought sessions because each person brings something different to the table. Placing importance on these different perspectives allows us to stay on top of innovation and develop some really great solutions.”
Speaking further for Generation Z, Riley Coder, who is a Research Analyst at Praescient, argues that the emergence of social networks had the biggest impact on technology and society as a whole. He says that social networks such as Facebook, and especially now Twitter, have minimized barriers to communications globally. “For better or worse, the spread of information (and disinformation) is faster than ever. This has a huge impact on all aspects of life including politics, economics, and conflicts,” he says.
Coder continues by adding that social networks sometimes frighten him. He says, “though they provide a number of benefits to society, they also present new security issues that are extremely difficult to mitigate.”
Talking about his fellow generational colleagues, Coder says “the majority of people my age work hard – contrary to the opinions of some in older generations. My fellow interns at Praescient kick ass at work and elsewhere, demonstrating some of the best from our generation.”
Katherine: Generation Z
Lastly, Katherine, a Research Analyst at Praescient, stated that the most surprising advancement from her lifetime was Facebook. She says that Facebook, along with other sites like MySpace, has paved the way for other social media sites that she uses on a daily basis.
“I think for me, the technological advancement that seemed the most revolutionary was either Alexa or smart safety sensors on vehicles. When most of these advancements came out I was pretty young, so it did not seem like such a big deal to me.” Katherine says that since she has been surrounded by this technology for most of her life, she’s not really shocked by major technological developments anymore. “It’s more like ‘awesome, someone finally did this,’ or ‘this is really cool and will make my life easier.’ If anything, I think I’m waiting for our technology to get even better,” she says.
Speaking about her fellow generational colleagues, Katherine says “I think my Gen Z colleges are really great at quickly learning how to use new technology and software, which makes it really easy for us to learn different types of programs in a short amount of time. Also, because we are used to using technology every day, it is really easy to communicate as a team despite the internship being entirely online”
With the passing of each generation, the incredible advancements in technology have continued to affect the lives of millions of people. From the Polio vaccine and typewriters to smartphones and electronic assistance devices like Alexa, Google, and Siri, technology has come a long way in revolutionizing the world we live in today.