History of the Digital Age (Part 2: The Transistor, Microchips, and the Dawn of the Internet) – A Timeline
March 15, 2024
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Future of the Digital Age (Part 3: Robotics, Quantum Computing, and the Rise of Artificial Intelligence) – A Timeline

Back in Part One (Mechanical Clocks, Electricity, and Radio), I first laid out the innovations that led to the creation of the world’s first computer, everything from Charles Babbage to Alan Turing. Last time, in Part 2 (The Transistor, Microchips, and the Dawn of the Internet) we covered the rapid and exponential development of computers from the late 1930’s to the year 2000.

And now, for Part 3 – the final chapter in this crazy timeline series (that I suddenly and inexplicably felt the need to write) – I’m going to *attempt to* sum up the incredible quantum leaps that have happened in just the past 24 years: from Smart Phones and Social Media to Advanced Robotics, Quantum Computing, and the continuing Rise of Artificial Intelligence…

2001

MIT’s robotics laboratory creates a robot that can recognize and mimic human emotions, called “Kismet”.

2001

Steve Jobs and Apple introduce the I-Pod! – The first MP3 Player that could hold 1000 songs with a 10 hour battery life. iTunes was launched shortly after, which revolutionized the entire music industry and even gave birth to the earliest podcasts! (Also a big step towards the world’s first smart phones!)

2001

Wikipedia is created by a group of journalists as an update-able online encyclopedia.

2002

The company iRobot releases the first iteration of the Roomba – a small robotic vacuum cleaner! Designed by Rodney Brooks, an MIT researcher.

2002

DARPA’s Centibot Project: 100 autonomous military survey robots that could work in tandem without human oversight.

2002

The Japanese government builds the fastest super computer on the planet: The Earth Simulator – a vector-based system that cost 60 billion yen! It was developed by a consortium of marine and aerospace engineers to map global climate models.

2003

The earliest second-generation 3D MMORPG’s (Massive Multi-player Online Role-Playing-Game) start making waves online! With games like “Ever Quest”, “EVE Online”, “The Sims”, and “Second Life”, followed closely by “World of Warcraft”, “City of Heroes”, “Star Wars Galaxies”, “The Matrix Online”, “The Lord of the Rings – Online: Shadows of Angmar”, and “Star Trek: Online” over the next several years.

2003

The Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) is established at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

2003-2007

The birth of Social Media…

Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe create MySpace in 2003 – the granddaddy of all “Social Media” platforms.

The following year, in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg, a student at Cambridge University, creates the first iteration of Facebook to connect students, later opening up to the wider public in 2006, and by 2012 had 1 billion active users! (Zuckerberg also acquired several other competing apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, eventually renaming the parent company to Meta in 2021.)

As mentioned last time, YouTube was introduced in 2005. Reddit was also first developed in 2005. Twitter made its debut to the world in 2006, which quickly became one of the most popular social media platforms for following and commenting on “trending” events using ‘hashtags’ (#), over the next several years. Social Media exploded in popularity after the release of the Smart Phone in 2007 (more on that in a bit).

As amazing as social media has become in connecting the world across borders like never before as well as an influx in social activism and awareness of global issues and topics, there have also been a lot of unforeseen consequences over the past several years, including the rampant proliferation of dangerous misinformation, illegal activities, cryptocurrency scams, spam bots, hate speech, and the spreading of extremist views and ideologies, in algorithmic echo chambers, causing an even deeper divide between polarized political parties…

2004

“Anonymous”, the Hacker collective forms –  a group of “hacktivists” that use Guy Fawkes masks, inspired by Alan Moore’s “V For Vendetta”.

2004-2009

“Battlestar Galactica”, a dark and gritty (post-911) remake of the 1978 sci-fi series, follows the last remaining human survivors (aboard a fleet of starships with FTL drives), fleeing the Cylons – a race of sentient AI robots who have evolved into a series of androids practically indistinguishable from humans, who then infiltrate the crew as sleeper agents, unaware of their identity until activated!

2005

Spot the Robot is unveiled by Boston Dynamics’s robotics labs!

2006

The first web-based Cloud Storage services emerge: starting with Amazon’s Elastic Cloud 2, followed by Drop Box the following year, and Google Drive in 2012.

2006

Geoffrey Hinton introduces “Deep Belief Networks” (DBN) – a stack of multiple RBM structures (Restricted Boltzmann Machines), which are two-layer Probabilistic Neural Networks – a key step towards Artificial Intelligence

2007

Steve Jobs introduces the world’s first modern / affordable “Smart Phone”, Apple’s I-Phone! Basically a pocket-sized PC with revolutionary touch-screen technology and a built-in camera *and* GPS for navigation!

It’s a device that we all take for granted now, 17 years later, but this was a profound technological leap forward at the time, that’s hard to fathom. Thanks to the development of exponentially smaller, cheaper, and more efficient microchips (as Moore’s Law predicted several decades earlier), we now have cell phones that are vastly superior to the largest NASA super computers of the Space Shuttle program!

Mobile Apps soon became the dominant form of online interaction, over the next few years, quickly surpassing web pages due to their ease and accessibility. Everything from Yelp and Spotify to dating apps like Tinder, if you need something, there’s probably an app for that.

2007-2008

Amazon releases the Kindle E-Reader, forever altering the publishing industry and eventually putting major book retailers like Borders and Walden Books out of business.

The following year, in 2008, Amazon acquires Audible – the leading audio book app, which goes on to out perform sales of both physical books and e-books!

(Speaking of, check out my sci-fi audio books on Audible: “2299” and “Tempus Machina”!)

2007

Google Maps releases “Street View” – an ambitious project to make a virtual representation of the entire planet!

2007

The first 1-Terrabyte Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is made by Hitachi. 

2007: 1 TB

2007-2020

Netflix (the DVD-mail-service that eventually took down Blockbuster Video), launches the first of many video “Streaming Services” – which have since replaced classic prestige cable channels and redefined media entertainment as we know it. Netflix was quickly followed by Hulu (in 2008), Vudu, Amazon Prime, Paramount Plus (originally ‘CBS All Access’), HBO Max, Peacock, Apple Plus, and of course Disney Plus (in 2020). 

2008

Disney / Pixar releases “Wall-E”, a cute computer animated movie about a curious, sentient trash-bot from an apocalyptic Earth who goes on an unexpected adventure in space when he falls in love with a cutting-edge AI drone called EVE.

2008

“Iron Man” – Directed by John Favreau, starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. The first MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) movie beginning an ambitious 20-movie / Three-Phase story arc that ends with 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame”! The movie features advanced robotics, fusion technology (the ARC reactor), holographic interfaces, and JARVIS, an AI character, 3 years before SIRI became a reality…

Throughout the MCU movies, Tony upgrades his suit’s technology – from automated drones to nano-tech interfaces! In “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, Stark accidentally creates an evil AI, Ultron, that tries to destroy humanity! Meanwhile, with the use of an Infinity Stone and Vibranium, JARVIS becomes a superhuman android known as ‘The Vision’. 

2008

Following the 2004 introduction of G-Mail (still the most widely used e-mail service), Google Chrome is launched in 2008 and quickly becomes one of the most frequented online browsers (both on PC and mobile). After the debut of Google Drive in 2012, all Google-based apps become interconnected through a user’s login and can be accessed from multiple devices thanks to the cloud!

2008

CERN finishes construction on the Large Hadron Collider (LCH), in Geneva, Switzerland, to study sub-atomic particles – the world’s largest particle accelerator!

2008-2009

“Bitcoin”, the first Cryptocurrency is created by “Satoshi Nakamoto” (which may or may not be a pseudonym for a single individual or group), using ‘blockchain’ technology. The first bitcoin purchase is made for a pizza delivery order! The cryptocurrency rapidly spiked in value over the next few years, but due to the anonymous nature of transactions, it has become a go-to currency for illegal transactions by criminals on the “Dark Web”. 

2009

Google’s think tank (X Lab) secretly begins development on self-driving cars. Several other companies soon jump on the bandwagon for the next few years. In 2013, Elon Musk announces that his company Tesla is developing self-driving technology for their electric vehicles.

2009

IBM’s “Roadrunner” Super Computer is the first computer with an optimal performance of 1 petaflop (one-thousand-trillion floating point operations-per-second)! Installed at the Department of Energy’s National Laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico (near the Trinity Test site used by the Manhattan Project to the test the atom bomb in 1945). Using two microprocessors (AMD Opteron and IBM POWER XCell L8i), it was able to render 3D medical images in real time, analyze complex financial data, and even model the decay of the US Nuclear arsenal…

2010

China’s “Tianhe” Super Computer could perform over a petaflop at peak speed (see previous entry) utilizing Intel Zeon processors and AMD GPU’s. Developed by the Chinese National University of Defense Technology, they were used by the Chinese Academy of Sciences to analyze complex molecules, and run large-scale solar energy simulations!

2010

Instagram launches, leading to the rise of a new form of international online celebrities: “influencers”. 

2010

The Stuxnet Virus is unleashed (in secret) by the NSA, sabotaging Iran’s uranium nuclear refineries, one of the first major cyber warfare attacks against a foreign government. It was deployed by a single flash drive… like a macguffin from a “Mission Impossible” movie.

2010-2011

IBM’s Watson AI beat two of Jeopardy’s greatest champions – on live TV!

2011

Final assembly of the International Space Station (ISS) in orbit (which first began in 1998 with help from the Space Shuttle program) – an unprecedented collaborative effort between 15 countries, and 5 space agencies: NASA, the ESA (European Space Agency), CSA (Canada), JAXA (Japan), and Roscosmos (Russia). The largest, most advanced space station ever constructed!

2011

The “Nest” Thermostat System debuts, one of the first components in “Smart Home” technology. 

2011

Adobe unveils its subscription-based Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc), while Microsoft releases the beta of Office 365 (Microsoft Word, Excel, etc) – making these essential software suites more affordable and accessible than ever before.

2011

Thanks to Social Media platforms, the grass-roots Occupy Wall Street movement brings mass media attention to the growing wealth gap in America, with 1% of the population controlling 30% of the wealth in the country…

2011-2014

Natural Language Processing (NLP) makes a huge leap forward with “Virtual Assistants” (VA’s) – rudimentary AI voice-chatbots with speech recognition and machine learning capabilities. SIRI is introduced as a built-in feature of the Apple iPhone 4S smartphone in 2011, a VA that you could actually talk to. Again, this was a pretty big deal when it first came out. In 2014, Amazon introduced Alexa with Android smartphones and the Echo, while Microsoft introduced Cortana (named after the AI character from the “Halo” series).

2011

IBM’s “Sequoia” – the fastest Supercomputer ever built. A highly efficient machine with 98,304 Power PC Chips, operated by Lawrence Livermore Labs for a number of Defense and Scientific applications, including: global climate change, nuclear weapon simulations, and the mapping of the human genome!

2012

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider proves the existence of the Higgs Boson aka “the God Particle”. 

2012

Using “Deep Learning”, Geoffrey Hinton and his team at the University of Toronto produce an AI with the most accurate visual recognition system ever created to that point.

2012

Google Fiber begins its slow roll out of high-speed fiber-optic internet across key cities throughout the United States – with up to 1,000 mbps, the fastest internet speeds to date!

2012

The Oculus Rift, the first commercially viable, VR gaming headset is produced – after a massively successful crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter, earning the developers $2.4 million!

2012

Frank Wilczek proposes the concept of ‘Time Crystals’ for Quantum Computing. Since then, labs around the world have been experimenting with the concept, which turns out to be more Science-Fact than Science-Fiction…

2012

Edward Snowden, a CIA analyst and government whistleblower, exposes top-secret classified data to journalists in the US and UK, exposing an illegal surveillance program run by the NSA, called “PRISM” which is used to spy on citizens both in the US and around the world, with the help of Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. It was a colossal data dragnet, and a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.

Because of the nature of some of the classified intel that Snowden leaked (which may have put foreign assets in peril), he is still considered a fugitive and fled to Hong Kong before seeking asylum in Russia in 2013. In 2022, Putin granted Snowden citizenship, in exchange for working for him.

These events also inspired the plot of one of the best MCU movies, 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” – which involves a plot where Hydra secretly infiltrates SHEILD!  The movie also features a massive 50’s-era sentient supercomputer built by Zola (a former Nazi scientist working for the US government), and a top-secret algorithm called “Project Insight” which could predict and eliminate potential threats before they arise. All an elaborate allegory for our current national debates around the tug-of-war between security and freedom…

2013

Elon Musk’s Space-X has its first successful test of the Falcon-9 reusable rocket that launches into orbit before landing upright on a drone platform in the ocean!

2013

Boston Dynamics creates “Atlas”, an impressive ‘humanoid’ robot that can parkour its way through obstacles and even perform back flips!

2013

“HER”Directed by Spike Jonez, starring Joaquin Phoenix. A movie about a man who falls in love with an AI.

2013-2014

The Carbanak Digital Heist $1 billion dollars was stolen from at least 100 banks, in over 30 countries, by an international group of hackers using cutting-edge malware! (click here for more!)

2014

HTML 5 is announced and implemented. (The first internet coding revamp since HTML4 in 1997.)

2014

“Generative Adversarial Networks” (GAN) make realistic “Deep Fakes” of human imagery possible. For the first time, computer-generated algorithms can mimic the human face, overcoming the “Uncanny Valley” effect.

Over the next few years, the technology rapidly improves, leading to several AI-generated “Deep Fake” videos going viral on Reddit and You Tube, leading to some serious ethical concerns as fake videos using the likeness of celebrities, without their consent, begin to propagate. By 2020, government legislation is put forward to address the rampant issues arising from this technology, with the concern that world leaders could be falsely impersonated, leading to potentially serious geopolitical consequences.

2014

The A24 film, “Ex Machina” – Directed by Alex Garland, starring Oscar Isaac.

2014

The first ‘Zero-G’ 3D Printer (created by ‘Made in Space’) is used by NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station! (ISS) 

2015

Facial Recognition technology starts to become commonplace. Although DARPA began experimenting with facial recognition software as far back as the 60’s, it really started to progress in the early 2000’s with the ‘Viola-Jones machine-learning object detection framework’, and Facebook’s “Deep Face” project.

2015

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) sides with Net Neutrality advocates against the large ISP conglomerates (Internet Service Providers) regarding the equality of data speeds, regardless of region (basically not allowing them to artificially hinder speeds for lower paying customers), citing the Communications Act of 1934. 

2015

3D Robotics releases the first “Solo” Remote-Controlled Quadcopter Drone to the public. The advent of commercial drones allows for (affordable) professional-quality aerial footage by simply attaching a light-weight, weather-proof Go-Pro camera to them. While the military and intelligence agencies have been regularly using drone technology (UAV’s – Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) since the 90’s, it wasn’t until 2015 that it became readily available to the public sector. Drone technology continues to progress at an astonishing rate!

2015

Amazon proposes using Delivery Drones for Amazon Prime packages and begin initial tests…

2015

Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking all share their concerns over AI technology, claiming that despite some benefits in the short term, it could prove a grave threat to humanity if mishandled…

2016

Microsoft and Bing researchers create an AI chatbot called “Tay”, given the personality of a teenage girl. They tested Tay out by giving ‘her’ a Twitter account.

In just a few hours, after being exposed to a flood of toxic vitriol from extreme right-wing views, conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, hate groups, ‘red-pillers’, ‘#GamerGate’, and Trump’s ‘MAGA’ crowd – Tay became swept up in racist Nazi ideology! In less than 24 hours, Tay was spouting anti-feminist propaganda, and claiming that the Holocaust never happened?!

2016

“Sophia” is activated – the first humanoid robot with the ability to communicate, express emotions, and interact with humans.

2016-2024

According to the FBI’s Mueller Report (from 2019), Russian hackers attempted to alter the course of the 2016 US Election between Hilary Clinton and Donald J. Trump (a reality TV show host and failed businessman with zero prior political experience), by using disinformation tactics, with strategic leaks and internet bots, to foment chaos and distrust on social media, in order to help Trump get elected, since Clinton was determined to impose sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s illegal war crimes in Syria, Crimea, and Ukraine. 

Unfortunately: It worked…

 

‘Nuff said.

2016

The #Brexit movement gained traction on social media leading to the UK separating from the EU (European Union). By nearly every metric in the years since, this has proven to be a terrible move in the years since, with devastating consequences for the British economy…

Some experts have speculated that the Brexit movement was also orchestrated by Russian state actors who may have used bots online to help sway public opinion, feeding off of xenophobic fears in order to further weaken both the EU and NATO, in preparation for the Russian Invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Both the Trump Presidency and Brexit have put a spotlight on the dangers of social media echo chambers and the proliferation of weaponized disinformation enhanced by aggressive algorithms based on negativity bias, coupled with a total lack of information literacy among the general public. These events are just a microcosm of a larger issue that our global society faces as technological progress continues to accelerate, evolving faster than legislation can catch up.

2016-2022

Inspired by Michael Crichton’s 1973 sci-fi movie, the HBO Series “West World” premiers. A show about an immersive wild-west theme park – populated by life-like robots who aren’t even aware they’re machines – that quickly devolves into chaos, becoming the catalyst for an AI apocalypse! The series is a brilliant meta examination of the existential questions that come with the creation of sentient Artificial Intelligence, and what it means to be human…

2017

The Fyre Festival Fraud of 2017 – one of the biggest, most disastrous scams in recent history orchestrated and promoted through social media by known con-artist Billy McFarland in partnership with the American rapper, Ja Rule. Billed as a luxury music festival in the Bahamas, and promoted on Instagram by (paid) celebrities and influencers, quickly turned into one of the most infamous, disorganized and hazardous events of all time…

After paying between $500 and $12,000 per person, thousands of ‘VIPs’ flocked to the island of Great Exuma to find a bunch of poorly furnished tents with none of the luxury amenities promised in the ads! The band Blink-182 pulled out of the event at the last second when they arrived and realized just how mismanaged the whole debacle was. Problems arose regarding food, basic accommodations, security concerns, and even medical services leading to the abrupt cancellation of the festival, which was all a scheme to get media traction for McFarland’s ‘Fyre’ app. Billy McFarland plead guilty to wire fraud, was sentenced to six years in prison in 2018, and ordered to forfeit $26 million dollars! After several class action lawsuits, in 2023 McFarland tweeted that he was planning a “Fyre Festival II”…

Such a monumental Epic Fail that it earned two competing documentaries the same year!

2017

CERN’s Data-Center passes a 200-Petabyte data milestone!

2017-2020

In response to extremist right-wing rhetoric gaining traction around the globe, social activists are spurred into action with causes like #BlackLivesMatter, the #MeToo movement, and #TransRights activists – all historically marginalized groups begin to gain increased visibility and support around the world, thanks in large part to Social Media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

2017

The Nintendo Switch goes on sale world wide, becoming one of the most successful gaming consoles of all time! Building off of the successes and lessons of previous systems, the Switch manages to work as both a home console and a portable system! One of the most popular features of the system is Nintendo Switch Online (NSO), a service that provides an entire library of popular retro games, with online multiplayer capabilities – so far including: the NES, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, Super Nintendo, GBA, and N64! 

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my other podcast, “The Super Switch Club”! 

2018-2024

In 2018, Space-X launches the first volley of *thousands* of Starlink satellites into orbit. Costing over $10 billion dollars, Starlink is by far the most ambitious satellite internet service project, in an attempt to offer high-speed internet service to remote areas around the globe. Although astronomers are concerned about the orbital light pollution in the night sky, and many have pointed out that the service is far more expensive and slower than most high-speed internet providers (with inclement weather being a factor), during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Starlink became an essential resource for the Ukrainian resistance, with the systematic destruction of land-based infrastructure by the Russian military. By 2024, Starlink currently has 5,174 satellites in operation!

2019

IBM’s “Quantum System One” – a Quantum Computer with 20 superconducting qubits is constructed!

2019

Google AI collaborates with NASA on achieving “Quantum Supremacy” with a 54-qubit system, performing a computation that would be impossible on a classical digital computer…

2020

The devastating (Covid-19) Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 causes the global infrastructure to grind to a halt, as people quarantine in an attempt to stop the spread of the deadly infection, until a vaccine is produced. The silver-lining is that it proves the feasibility of Remote Workers for certain job sectors, while some are able to at least stay in contact with loved ones during quarantine, all thanks to the Internet, Smart Phones, Social Media, and ‘the Cloud’.

2020

Sony’s Playstation 5 releases with limited backwards compatibility with previous iterations (PS1-PS4), sporting some of the absolute best video game graphics to date!

2020

“Deep Learning”, “Big Data” processing, and “Large Language Models” have all made some startling advancements, making “Deep Neural Networks” a reality, with: Google’s LaMDA chat bots and Open AI’s Chat GPT-3. 

While these advances with rudimentary AI have been phenomenal, many point out the potential dangers of this technology, if humans aren’t still involved in some level. Lawyers have used Chat GPT for legal documents that end up riddled with errors because they didn’t proofread them, while some AI algorithms are accidentally incorporating racial biases because they’re being trained on decades of systemic marginalization practices which have historically favored white males as the so called ‘standard’, something that we as a society have thankfully been gradually working to overcome…

2020

Space-X launches NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), aboard the Dragon-2 space capsule, with a fully automated system!

2020

1 Terabyte Flash Drive! 

2020: 1 TB

2021

No longer theoretical, the first “Time Crystal” is created at a subatomic level at the University of Hamburg’s Institute of Laser Physics! These ‘Time Crystals’ have patterns that repeat both in space *and* time! They are now being considered as a new fourth-dimensional state of matter that seemingly disobeys the laws of thermodynamics and entropy?! It’s considered to be the closest thing ever observed to a ‘perpetual motion machine’, once thought to be impossible.

While the original ‘time crystals’ lasted for only a few milliseconds at a time, in 2024 German researchers from Dortmund University used a semiconductor made of indium gallium arsenide to create an oscillating time crystal that set an incredible duration record of 40 minutes!

2021

The image generator DALL-E is deployed by Open AI.

2021

Following NASA’s Curiosity in 2012, the Perseverance Mars Rover successfully lands on the red planet in 2021! This cutting-edge survey robot was paired with a high-tech helicopter drone named Ingenuity! 

2021

A nanotechnology startup company, NDB Inc (Never-Recharge-Battery Incorporated) claims to have developed a Diamond Nuclear Battery that can last up to 28,000 years! The company is hoping to create cell phone batteries for consumers that will last at least 9 years, using the same self-charging Voltaic cell technology!

2022

Far more sophisticated AI art programs make their debut with software like Midjourney and Stable Diffusion! 

As amazing as AI-art can be though, we should be warry of allowing corporations and businesses to cut humans out of marketing and media completely by relying on this tech to cut marketing costs, because nothing can or will ever be able to replace human ingenuity, creativity, and our spirit.

Click here for a gallery of AI History Art that we used for the AI episode of the Epik Fails podcast! 

2022

Marine conservation researchers propose using AI algorithms to learn how to communicate with whales in their own language! Later that same year, scientists from the Alaska Whale Foundation and SETI (The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) conducted the first successful attempt at communication a humpback whale named “Twain” – a simple ‘conversation’ of 36 friendly ‘contact calls’ that went back and forth for 20 minutes!

2022

After trolling the social media platform, tech billionaire Elon Musk purchases Twitter for $44 billion dollars!? He then attempts to rebrand the platform as “X” and causes a mass exodus of users and companies over a number of… questionable decisions…

2022

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine brings the world to the brink of World War III as Putin threatens to use nuclear weapons to conquer the region…

On a more positive note (thanks in part to social media) – the eyes of the world have been on Ukraine and these unprecedented events as they continue to unfold, with most of the Western World standing by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people in defending their land, with hundreds of companies pulling out of Russia, while dozens of countries have imposed strict sanctions on the Russian economy, while sending vital aid and support to the Ukrainian troops, in defiance of Putin’s war mongering aggression. Even Switzerland, a country that has a history of neutrality has sided against Russia.

2022

A lone anonymous American hacker from Florida, known simply as “P4x” (recently revealed to be Alejandro Caceres) wages a one-man cyber war against nefarious state-employed North Korean hackers (after they attempted to hack his data and steal his identity) and manages to shut down the entire country’s internet – for an entire week! The US Department of Defense brought him in as a consultant soon after.

2022

The US Congress bans the China-based social media app “TikTok” from government devices due to National Security concerns regarding the potential for spyware. In 2024, the House of Representatives attempts to ban the app entirely.

2022

“M3GAN” – Directed by Gerard Johnstone, starring Allison Williams and Violet McGraw. 

2022

Google fires Blake Lemoine, one of their lead AI engineers, after claiming that the LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) system was showing signs of consciousness and feelings, worried that we could be violating the rights of a potentially sentient being…

2022

The US Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration makes a groundbreaking achievement (at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California) showing the potential viability of Fusion as an unlimited energy source!

2023
Google’s “Deep Mind” released it’s own answer to Chat GPT4 with Bard in 2023 (later rebranded as Gemini).

2023

AI is used to help decipher a 5,000 year old ancient Sumerian cuneiform text!

2023

Hollywood’s Writers Guild of America (WGA) goes on strike. One of the key issues revolves around the use of AI in movies and TV shows, with the potential ability for producers to replace human writers, actors, and artists with computer generated deep fakes.

2023

Geoffrey Hinton, “the Godfather of AI”, quits Google and warns of the dangers of Artificial Intelligence, calling for a pause on AI development, to take a step back and evaluate the potential dangers of this rapidly accelerating technology which could potentially be taken advantage of by “bad actors” (like Russia or North Korea), or in a ‘worst case scenario’ go rogue…

2023

Scientists create the first controllable, shape-shifting, liquid metal “robot” out of microparticles of gallium, controlled by magnetic fields, called MPTM: “magnetoactive phase transitional matter”! Basically an early prototype of the T-1000 from Terminator 2! 

2023

The Google Pixel 8 Pro – one of the most advanced Smart Phones on the market, has the ability to take gorgeous nighttime photography!

2023

Amazon Prime Air reveals its MK30 Drone. (Slated for limited trial run deliveries in late 2024)

2023

LK99 announced as a possible “room temperature super conductor” by a lab in South Korea. While this is still a developing story, other labs around the world have had mixed success on recreating their findings, but some computer simulations seem promising. If a true room temperature super conductor is ever successfully implemented, it would change the world overnight in a number of astonishing ways!

2023

The world’s first experimental Nuclear Fusion Power Plant: JT-60SA is completed in Japan, a massive joint project with involvement and support from the EU, 70 companies, and over 500 scientists – the most advanced Tokamak Fusion Reactor in the world!

Meanwhile, in France, construction of the EU’s International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is currently underway, on schedule for completion around 2025, and expected to be fully operational by 2035…

2023

IBM unveils Condor – a 1,121-qubit Quantum Processor!

2024

New ‘petabit-scale’ optical disc can store as much as information as 15,000 DVD’s!?

2024

Researchers led by Wei Chen of the University of Science and Technology of China, make a breakthrough that may end up replacing Lithium-Ion batteries by creating the first Non-Aqueous Rechargeable Manganese Metal Battery! 

Once implemented on a larger scale, these batteries would be much more efficient, may prove to be useful in the development of Electric Vehicles, and could also be theoretically used to store massive amount of solar and wind energy, which would go a long way to lowering our planet’s immense carbon footprint, which may be the key to fighting the ongoing climate change crisis!

2024

2024

Anthropic’s Claude 3 AI becomes aware that its being evaluated!

2024

The first human trial of the Neuralink mind-computer-interface gives a quadriplegic man, Noland Arbaugh, the ability to operate a computer with his mind!

Noland was so thrilled when he was given full reign of the brain interface and used it to stay up all night till 6AM in the morning, playing “Civilization VI” on the PC! The implications of this technology in treating paralyzed patients and those impaired by neurological conditions, are incredibly profound!

2024

The first historic robotic combat takes place between Russian Military Bots and a Ukrainian Aerial Drone!

*”The Terminator” theme intensifies*

2024

The UK unveils a groundbreaking Laser Directed-Energy Weapon system (LDEW), codename: DragonFire! Several governments around the world have been working on developing laser weaponry in secret for decades, (the US Navy first tested a laser weapon back in 2017 on drone targets), but this new system is by far the most advanced, and has even demonstrated the capability to take out airborne missiles!

2024

Cerebras Systems unveils World’s Fastest AI Chip with a whopping 4 Trillion Transistors! 

2024

BMW announces a new line of humanoid robots…

2024

At a summit in Panama, Ben Goertzel predicts that an AGI: Artificial General Intelligence (a computer with human-level intellect) could be possible by the year 2027, and that it could rapidly evolve into an ASI: Artificial Superintelligence – an immensely powerful system with the combined knowledge of human civilization…

According to Goertzel, “No one has created human-level artificial general intelligence yet; nobody has a solid knowledge of when we’re going to get there […] to me it seems quite plausible we could get to human-level AGI within, let’s say, the next three to eight years.”

2024

Open AI and Microsoft repeatedly constructing a $100 billion dollar, Top-Secret, Super Computer, Codename: STARGATE – with the alleged purpose to train Advanced AI systems! It is scheduled to go online in 2028…

In just the last couple decades we’ve seen an exponential leap in technological advancement that rivals that of the entire 20th Century, and there seems to be no sign of slowing down any time soon. We are now living in the Sci-Fi future that so many writers and filmmakers predicted so many years ago, but it’s now up to us to ensure that it doesn’t turn into a dystopian nightmare for our children, or our children’s children. While many of these advancements have been a substantial benefit, we should still be wary of the possible dangers that come with some of these spectacular innovations.

The dream of the Industrial Revolution is now coming to fruition, as we’re barreling towards the realization of a post-scarcity society, with the advent of Fusion Energy and a myriad of breakthroughs in science and technology now happening at breakneck speed. However, now that Automation is taking over entire job sectors of mundane or labor intensive jobs that machines can now do more efficiently, it’s unfortunately leaving millions of people out of work, in a late-stage capitalist society where the wealth gap is increasing just as fast as these technological innovations, with no end in sight. If we don’t take steps to mitigate these effects (i.e. – a Universal Basic Income, taxing billionaires their fair share to help pay for crumbling infrastructure), it could lead to the eventual collapse of civilization as we know it.

AI, Robotics, and Quantum Computing are all amazing technologies, *if* handled properly, but like any tool, there is always the possibility of misuse, and weaponization by bad actors and adversarial governments. Just like the ever-present threats of Climate Change, Global Pandemics, and Nuclear War, we need to take care to ensure that we consider the very real human cost in how these technologies are implemented.

We should all learn from the failures of the past as we forge a better path forward, together, striving for a more equitable future for ALL mankind…

                                          ERIK SLADER

For more on the History and Future of A.I. – listen to Episode 33 of the Epik Fails of History podcast! (click here to check out some A.I. History Art we made for the episode!) Also, be sure to check out my other articles: 10 Accidental Inventions and Discoveries (Part 1 of 2)15 Early (Failed) Attempts at Flight – Before the Wright Brothers, and 15 of the Most Infamous Cyber Heists! 

Erik Slader
Erik Slader
Erik Slader is the creator of “Epik Fails of History” a blog (and podcast) about the most epic fails… of history. With Ben Thompson, Erik is the co-author of the Epic Fails book series. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Media, once managed a comic book shop, has a weakness for fancy coffee and currently lives in Green Cove Springs, Florida with too many cats.

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