Chain reaction

Do you feel like scientific or technological progress has stagnated? That somehow, the biggest technological breakthroughs lie behind us?

At some point during the 1940s, Alan Turing’s work, along with several others, led to the invention of software engineering as a discipline. In 1948, Tom Kilburn wrote the world’s very first piece of software. The program took a “mere” 52 minutes to correctly raise 2 to the power of 18 (262,144).

Todays software engineers come in so many different shapes and sizes – front-end, back-end, quality assurance, operations, cybersecurity, data scientists etc. Look inside any of those fields and you’ll see further specialization. As a front-end developer, you could develop for web, desktop or mobile. Or you could automate processes using their user-interface as an RPA developer. And yes – each of those types of software engineers are their own professional crafts. Think of any other tech discipline and you will find a similar pattern.

When you bombard enriched uranium with an accelerated neutron, you set off a chain reaction. This neutron collides with another uranium atom to unleash 3 other neutrons that each go on to collide with 3 other uranium atoms.

Tech innovation also proceeds like a chain reaction – each technological breakthrough ends up seeding several others. It’s just that this process takes longer than nuclear fission.

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