We Have the U.S. Military to Thank for the Internet and Other Key Technology

Why We Thank the US Military for the Internet

GUEST POST from Howard Tiersky

From the computers that are used to develop your app to the AI that’s incorporated into your chatbot, many of the technologies that are foundational to our digital world were either massively moved forward or funded by the military. Let’s go over some of those technologies.

Microchips

The microchips that we know today are composed of millions of transistors which were first developed by Bell Labs in 1949. Through military funding, microchips were further improved and incorporated in airplanes and missiles for complex communication and guidance systems.

Today, microchips are one of the basic building blocks of modern electronics, from calculators and cameras to hearing aids, pacemakers, and spacecraft guidance systems, they’re found almost everywhere electronics exist.

Computers

Did you know that the very first computer was funded by the US Military? The ENIAC, built between 1943 and 1945, was the first large-scale computer to run at electronic speed without being slowed by any mechanical parts. It enabled the military to calculate complex wartime ballistic tables, decryption, etc.

Apart from our phones and laptops, computers can be found in our cars, washing machines, manufacturing companies, 3D printers, power plants, banks, and more.

Cellular Technology

The original versions of cellular phone technology were heavily backed by the military for point-to-point soldier communication on the battlefield since they were more beneficial and secure than conventional radio technology.

Today, 80% of the US population owns a smartphone, and our ability to text, call, and video chat with others is a direct result of improved cellular technology.

The Internet

What we know as the internet today started out as the ARPANET. Backed by the US Military, it was initially used for military and academic communication for joint development projects and as a means of communication in the event of a nuclear attack.

As of 2020, 4.66 billion people around the world are internet users. This interconnectivity gave rise to our digital world and serves as the backbone behind almost all digital transformation initiatives today.

GPS

Originally developed for the military to help them navigate terrain and develop weapon targeting systems, the first 20 satellites launched for GPS were funded and driven by the military.

Without GPS technology, we wouldn’t have Google Maps, Waze, or Uber. Depending on your business, there are many ways you can incorporate GPS technology to streamline processes and collect data.

Digital Cameras

The digital sensors used by cameras were developed by the military because of their need to capture and send images wirelessly from satellites in space for terrain mapping and espionage operations.

DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, product advertisements, and face recognition technology all came as a direct result of these digital sensors.

Drones

While there are a lot of non-military applications for drones today, the development of drones was initially funded by the US military to avoid any risk to pilots, fly undetected, and provide real-time footage of an area.

A common use for drones is to help farmers scatter seeds, deliver goods to customers, and collect photos or videos of different places, but there are plenty of other ways we can incorporate them into media, architecture, construction, and emergency response.

Artificial Intelligence

The defense sector is projected to spend about $2 billion in Artificial Intelligence this year. The ability to play out simulations, analyze and understand satellite communications, and improve disaster preparedness are just a few of the many ways AI can be utilized by the military.

Commercially, we see AI in digital assistants like Siri, Bixby, and Google Assistant; chatbots on websites and messaging apps; disease mapping; automated financial investing; virtual booking; and social media monitoring.

So the next time you use your smartphone, Alexa, computer, or GPS, remember to say thank you to a soldier!

In my Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance, I walk you through a simple five-step process to successful digital transformation. This methodology is proven and has worked for many companies that I’ve helped in the past. You can access the first chapter for free here or purchase the hard copy here.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

About Howard Tiersky

Howard Tiersky is an inspiring and passionate speaker, the Founder and CEO of FROM, The Digital Transformation Agency, innovation consultant, serial entrepreneur, and the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance. IDG named him one of the “10 Digital Transformation Influencers to Follow Today”, and Enterprise Management 360 named Howard “One of the Top 10 Digital Transformation Influencers That Will Change Your World.”
This entry was posted in Innovation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *