At the start of each New Year, one question commonly considered by the experts is what tech advances have changed the world – and what innovations look set to shape our future.
Having just watched the Imitation Game (yes, I am clearly a couple of years off the pace when it comes to my cinema-viewing habits), I was struck by the sheer force of genius that is Alan Turing. Here is a mathematician who, with a handpicked team, set about building a device that could break the coded messages created by the German's Enigma machine during WW2. That machine has led Turing to be described as the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. In a world where Google and Apple dominate our landscape, it is hard not to underestimate Turing’s place in the pantheon of innovative minds.
While watching the film, I was also struck by the level of resistance that Turing faced from those around him. The scale of Turing’s vision – to create one single machine to crack every code, rather than deciphering each batch of messages on a daily basis – left his colleagues frustrated initially by the slow progress they were making. In a war when quick wins were so appealing, Turing’s commitment to the long game, despite intense pressure from his Naval bosses and his own code-breaking colleagues, is a telling lesson in patience and persistence.
The long (or not-so-long) game also came up in conversation with the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s acting chief executive, Sally Harvey, when I asked which projects the RNIB is working on to improve the lives of people living with sight loss.
Her answer? “Driverless cars. The RNIB is involved in a number of projects that are going on around this, and we share in the excitement of the potential. It is coming sooner than probably any of us would realise.”
Look out for OT’s full-length interview with Ms Harvey in the February edition.
For a view of game-changing innovations in the profession, 100% Optical is only a month away (4–6 February). The event offers practitioners a valuable opportunity to hear from experts in optics and vision science, plus meet product and service suppliers in the equipment, ophthalmic lenses and frames arena.
Happy New Year from the OT team.
Image credit: Flickr