• Wayfarer
    4.6k
    Actually I think we ought to mention TCP/IP. Without that, no internet. It was designed in the 1960's and 70's to provide a bomb-proof means of distributed communication, and is a work of utmost genius, mainly due to Vicent Cerf and Bob Cahn. One of my first tech writing assignments involved putting together a narrative history of computer networking, which is what lead me to appreciate the enormous genius of TCP/IP. (Yes, it has many huge security holes in it, due to it not being designed originally for internet commerce and social media, but even so...)
  • StreetlightX
    1.4k
    One of my fav nerd jokes:

    Bq5pt_NIEAEjUAg.png
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    513
    What is the most life changing technology to effect the quality of human life so far?Ponderer

    Whatever has reduced or eliminated maternal mortality (the death of women due to pregnancy and childbirth) and infant mortality.
  • Bitter Crank
    4.1k
    It's a whole series of things, not one thing. Among them...

    hand washing and antiseptics
    trained midwives
    pre-natal care
    antibiotics
    C-sections can help, but only in surgical setting, and not just for the convenience of the doctor.
    better diet (healthier mothers)
    breast feeding
    better sanitation (fewer infant GI infections)
    electrolyte drink (salt, a little sugar, clean water) for infant diarrhea

    Stuff like that
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    513
    It's a whole series of things, not one thing. Among them...

    hand washing and antiseptics
    trained midwives
    pre-natal care
    antibiotics
    C-sections can help, but only in surgical setting, and not just for the convenience of the doctor.
    better diet (healthier mothers)
    better sanitation (fewer infant GI infections)
    electrolyte drink (salt, a little sugar, clean water) for infant diarrhea

    Stuff like that
    Bitter Crank

    I would say that those and anything else that has reduced or eliminated maternal mortality and infant mortality has changed the lives of humans more than anything else.

    I don't have exact numbers, but it is my understanding that before all of that men lived longer than women (that has flipped) and most newborn children--even if we control for infanticide--did not live past a very young age.
  • Bitter Crank
    4.1k
    Life expectancy was so short in centuries past because so many children died in the first few years of life. That drove the average down. Many women died in their late teens, early 20s--the beginning of their childbearing years. Any problem delivery (lots of them are) had a good chance of resulting in death of the mother and/or the baby.

    Everybody died of infections at a high rate: Small pox, TB, polio, syphilis, staph and strep infections, rabies, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, pneumonia, influenza, and so on. Then there was cancer and other kinds of tumors, and finally, accidents.

    Better prenatal care in Europe and North America improved maternal and child survival. Then (1860- 1875) Pasteur, Lister, and Koch clearly revealed the role of bacteria in infection and discovered ways (antisepsis) to reduce it.

    Up until the 20th century, infection was the leading cause of death. Vaccinations greatly reduced death from viral diseases, like small pox, rabies, diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough, antiseptics helped, and finally antibiotics came along.

    Men who were not laborers did tend to live longer than their wives. Laborers, on the other hand, had proportionately high rates of death from accident and the aftermath (like infections, blood clots, excessive bleeding, etc.) of accidents. Better safety procedures and mechanization did a lot to reduce accidents.
  • Maw
    62
    I'm a big fan of air-conditioning
  • szardosszemagad
    150
    Anything that causes death: flame throwers, bullets, guns, arrows and bows, nuclear devices, electric chair. I say this because the biggest change you can experience in life is becoming dead.
  • Jeremiah
    425


    You are either dead or you are alive and you can only experience life. To be honest even saying, "you are dead" is an odd phrase that does not reflect reality because there is no more "you". "You" can never actually be dead, your life just ends and you cease to exist.
  • Agustino
    8.4k
    What is the most life changing technology to effect the quality of human life so far?Ponderer
    Computers. They changed pretty much every single other field when they came on. That includes medicine, cars, shoemaking, mathematics, military - anything you could think of. Apart from possibly philosophy LOL :P

    If not computers, then certainly the internet.
  • Bitter Crank
    4.1k
    If not computers, then certainly the internet.Agustino

    The internet IS computers. The computer is a tremendous facilitator. Without content it has nothing to facilitate.

    Back in the 1970s, people working in educational technology were groping towards something like the Internet. We pictured remotely accessible libraries, for instance. Or computer assisted instruction. Mainframe computers were available to us through VERY SLOW telephone connections. Computing students were also using teletype terminals and punch tape. Data flowed like an IV drip.

    At the time I imagined a system which was a behemoth electro-mechanical monstrosity to do something of the miniaturized sort we now take as a birthright. (It was sort of modeled after the 1909 novella by E. M. Forester, The Machine Stops.) Forester was actually very prescient. The residents of his future society lived underground in 6-sided cells surrounded by mechanical servants. The Machine featured a world-wide communication system through which one could listen to music and lectures, or as he put it, "share ideas". The Machine was voice-operated. An automated subway system connected each cell. It's really a very good story.

    The means were not yet available. The connecting infrastructure hadn't been built. I first signed on to AOL in 1990. I down-loaded some HyperCard stacks (a Macintosh application) and it took all night, just about. In the morning there they were -- text and some B&W illustrations. Not great, but a first step.

    Ten years later content and speed was much better, but still not great, unless one spent some money on higher speed transmission. Animated full color banner ads slowed transmission of the desired content.

    Transmission cables, faster desk and lap tops, and server farms made the Internet's library/audio-visual phantasmagoria into reality.
  • Agustino
    8.4k

    You are right, it all very much exploded fully into force from 2000-present. Today, computers and computing technology are pretty much everywhere.
  • Bitter Crank
    4.1k
    There are a lot of small inventions we use all the time; they may not be live saving or life changing, exactly. Safety pins; staplers; photocopiers; vacuum cleaners; plastics; pressure cookers; automatic water heaters; Velcro; Zippers; rivets; etc. Some inventions are very over rated. Teflon pans, for instance. Not a great invention. A properly seasoned cast iron pan is better than Teflon. Conduction stove tops -- not great. The self-cleaning oven -- dubious. (Better, maybe, was the continuous cleaning oven coating that was popular in the 80s. I used one for 15 years; somehow the rough gray coating shed carbonized spatters (the bottom wasn't similarly coated, unfortunately.) The pneumatic milking machine was a life saver for farmers. Conveyor belts are quite important. Look how many difficult and unpleasant problems have been quickly eliminated by a 'plumber's devil'. Mechanical barn cleaners and manure spreaders are a good thing.
  • szemi
    12
    You are either dead or you are alive and you can only experience life. To be honest even saying, "you are dead" is an odd phrase that does not reflect reality because there is no more "you". "You" can never actually be dead, your life just ends and you cease to exist.Jeremiah
    this does no take away from the original claim, that the biggest change in life is from living to dead.

    If you define the state of death as nothingness of the conscious, or the ceasing of the conscious, the poster's claim still applies.
  • Jeremiah
    425

    No, it does't, and death is not a "change in life". Life is not changing, life ends.

    I know that is colloquial semantics, but it implies death is life transformed. Even the word death, itself is problematic, and it is a way for those still alive to cope with the absence of those that are gone.

    I am sorry, but "death" is nothing but a semantics function used to anthropomorphize our memories of those alive once, and our own complete and final end. "Alive once" is even a disjointed concept, since there is no "once", there is no past, there is no future, there is only now and things either exist now or they don't exist at all. These are words we use to reference our own perceptional framework, which as we all know, does not always reflect reality.

    I recognize the usage of these terms as functions to facilitate subjective reasoning and colloquial conversation, but as a reflection of the objective reality they dissolve and fall to pieces. Perhaps the hardest part of "death" is dealing with the fact that the remembered loved one, simply does not exist, there is just a void, just an absences where you can recall them existing. That perceptions persist because your memories do exist in the now, but those are not the same thing. And rather then deal with the reality that said loved one exist nowhere in time or space, we comfort ourselves with deceptive language (even those who "do not believe in the after life").

    The most challenging part of dealing with "death" is facing the fact the person you remember simply does not exist. Their life line ended and "death" is really you, your memories and your pain.
  • szemi
    12


    Jeremiah, you said that death is not a life change. I accept your reasoning, but there is a chance you may have misworded the question. If you say "what is the biggest change in life after which life still continues", the unanimously you have the right to reject my answer. However, as you worded the question originally, there is ambiguity as to what one can consider a life change.

    So to be fair, I wish you worded your original question less ambiguously and more precisely. They way you worded it, you needed a long paragaraph to explain why my answer was wrong. If you worded it less ambiguosly, as per my example, I wouldn't have put my reply.

    In other words, I accept your explanation, but I charge that the explanation was necessary to clarify the ambiguity. If it were not so, you wouldn't have needed to clarify with the latter explanation.
  • T Clark
    916
    What is the most life changing technology to affect the quality of human life so far?Ponderer

    I'll go with agriculture. The case can be made that it lay the social groundwork for almost everything listed above.
  • Bitter Crank
    4.1k
    If we are going back as far as agriculture, what about the atlatl -- the spear thrower? It enabled the North American aboriginals to hunt mastodons successfully -- by the simple expedient of leverage. They also developed the detachable dart head.

    Or stone knapping technology that enabled all our predecessors to make tools?
  • T Clark
    916
    If we are going back as far as agriculture, what about the atlatl -- the spear thrower? It enabled the North American aboriginals to hunt mastodons successfully -- by the simple expedient of leverage.

    Or stone knapping technology that enabled all our predecessors to make tools?
    Bitter Crank

    I probably couldn't make a strong case that agriculture is more important. One thing that your suggestions and mine have in common - They happened a long time ago. The arm of the lever is much longer. By that standard, your suggestion wins. Agriculture - 10,000 years ago. Tools - more than a million, right? Pre-human.
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