At present many people in most coun­tries are engaged in working with information. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is concerned with the use of computer technology in managing and processing information. The computer now has a role in almost every aspect of modern life, and it has radically affected the way people live. People who have grown up with PCs and microchips are often called the digital generation.

Informed citizens of our information-dependent society should be computer-literate, which means that they should be able to use computers as everyday problem-solving devices without

being experts on the design of computers or programming. A computer is a machine with an intricate network of elec­tronic circuits that has many remarkable pow­ers. The first electronic computers were developed in the mid-20th century. These were the size of a large room, consuming as much power as several hundred modern personal computers. Modern computers based on integrated circuits are millions to billions of times more capable than the early machines, and occupy a fraction of the space. PCs in their various forms have become icons of the Information Age. The embedded computers are found in An early computer

many devices from MP3 players to aircraft and from toys to industrial robots.

Each time you turn this miraculous device on, it is a tabula rasa that, with appropriate hardware and software, is capable of doing anything you ask. A computer can solve a series of problems and make thou­sands of logical decisions almost instan­taneously without becoming tired. It can replace people in dull, routine tasks. There are times when a computer seems to operate like a mechanical 'brain', but its achievements are limited by the minds of human beings as it only works according to the given instructions. It is a calculating machine that speeds up financial calculations; it is an electronic filing cabinet which manages large collections of data such as customers' lists, accounts, or inventories. It is a magical typewriter that allows you to type and print any kind of document — letters, memos or legal documents. It is a personal communicator that enables you to interact with other computers and with people around the world. If you like gadgets and electronic entertainment, you can even use your PC to relax with computer games.

Computers are general purposemachines. By changing the program instructions, they can be used to process information in different ways. For example, a word processor program allows the computer to process text, a spreadsheet enables it to perform calculations, a database program is used

for searching and sorting records, and a browser program is designed to look at Internet pages.

Computers are used in almost every type of work and can be found everywhere. Computer-controlled robots are able to improve the quality of manufactured products and to increase the productivity of industry. Computers can control the work of power stations, plants and docks. The work of banks depends upon computer terminals for millions of daily operations. Computers form a

part of many military systems including communication and fire control. Space exploration depends on computers for guidance, on-board environment and re­search. Computers are widely used in medicine as valuable diagnostic tools. Air traffic control is impossible without them.

In libraries and bookshops, they can help to find books as quickly as possible. Most television advertisements and many films use graphics, produced by a computer. Personal computers influence education, affecting both the learner and the teacher. The list of applications of PCs is

al­most endless and many other uses of computers that we cannot imagine at present will become commonplace in future.

But such omnipresence of computers in our lives has its darker side.

· Our society has developed technological dependence. When computers are down, our way of
life breaks down: planes stop flying, telephones don't work, banks have to close.

· Computers produce electronic waste, plastic cases and microchips that are not biodegradable and have to be recycled or just thrown away.

· They are responsible for health problems, e.g. computer addiction, an inappropriate and excessive use of computers. · Cybercrime, crime committed with the help of computers, is creating serious problems.

· Citizens may feel a loss of privacy because of unauthorized use of personal data or receiving
unwanted electronic messages.

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