BEST IELTS General Reading Test 39
GENERAL READING TEST 39 – PASSAGE – 2
GENERAL READING TEST 39
READING PASSAGE – 2
Read the text and answer Questions 15 – 21.
Your Future Mobile Phone
It is 2025. Your mobile is now much more than just a communication device – more like a remote control for your life. You still call it a “mobile” from habit, but it is an organiser, entertainment device, payment device and security centre, all developed and manufactured by engineers.
On a typical day it will start work even before you wake. Because it knows your travel schedule it can check for problems on the roads or with the trains and adjust the time it wakes you up accordingly, giving you the best route into work. It can control your home, re-programming the central heating if you need to get up earlier and providing a remote alert if the home security system is triggered. It is your payment system – just by placing the phone near a sensor on a barrier, like the Oyster card readers in use on London transport, you can pay for tickets for journeys or buy items in shops. With an understanding of location, the mobile can also provide directions, or even alert the user to friends or family in the vicinity.
It is your entertainment centre when away from home. As well as holding all your music files, as some phones today are able to do, it will work with your home entertainment system while you sleep to find programmes that will interest you and download them as a podcast to watch on the train or in other spare moments.
It will intelligently work out what to do with incoming phone calls and messages. Because it knows your diary it will also know, for example, to direct voice calls to voicemail when you are in a meeting, perhaps providing a discrete text summary of the caller and the nature of their call.
With its understanding of almost all aspects of your life, many new services become possible. For example, a “Good Food” meal planning service could send daily suggestions for your evening meal based on learned preferences, previous selections made and the likely contents of your refrigerator. The latter might work by uploading the bill from the weekly grocery shop and then removing those items it deduces have been used for meals earlier in the week.
Leaving home without your mobile, bad enough already, will become rather like leaving home without your wallet, keys, music player and mobile all at once – quite unthinkable. And in the nicest, most helpful ways, your mobile will guide you through life.
So what will this apparently massive change in our relationships with our mobiles require in the way of new technology or extra expenditure? Actually, surprisingly little. Now that we have widespread cellular coverage, with high-speed data networks in many homes, offices and points of congregation such as coffee shops, we have all we need to get signal to the mobile.
What we do need is better mobiles and more intelligence. Mobiles will continue to get steadily better, with higher resolution touch-screens, speech recognition that really works and much greater memory and storage capabilities. Increasingly intelligent software will be running on these mobiles, and also on home and wide-area networks, able to learn behaviour, predict needs and integrate with a growing number of databases, such as transport updates from major providers. So, instead of the train company just sending you a text to tell you of delays, your mobile will analyse it in conjunction with your travel plans and modify those plans if needs be.
This evolution will be a slow but steady one as every few years mobiles get slightly better, intelligent software evolves and the various providers of all the necessary input data – such as transport organisations and shops – gradually make the data available in formats that become increasingly useful.
Ten years ago the mobile was purely a device for making voice calls. Now it is a camera, MP3 player, organiser and texting device. This is only the start of an evolution that will turn it into our trusted and
indispensable companion in life.
Complete the sentences below.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.
15. If there is a problem with the security of your accommodation, your mobile will be able to send you…………. .
16. With location tracking your mobile will be able to tell you when people you know are in your………… .
17…………….Will be able to send you messages about calls you received.
18. Your mobile will know what is probably inside…………… .
19. Mobile networks are now available in most areas of………….. .
20. One requirement of future software is that it will be able to successfully connect to more…………… .
21. Our mobile phone will, for sure, become a we………..can truly rely on.
Read the text and answer Questions 22 – 27
Dawn of the age of the robot
The robots are coming. The second decade of the 21st century will see the rise of a mechanised army that will revolutionise private and public life just as radically as the internet and social media have shaken up the past 10 years. Or so says Marina Gorbis, futurologist and head of Californian thinktank The Institute for the future.
The IFTF is one of the world’s most venerable thinktanks and has been plotting the course of the future for corporate and government clients since it was spun off from the RAND Corporation in 1968.
Gorbis says robots will increasingly dominate everything from the way we fight wars to our work lives and even how we organise our kitchens.
Robots are likely to prompt a political storm to equal the row over immigration as they increasingly replace workers, says Gorbis. But it’s not all bad news. “When IBM’s Deep Blue became the first computer to beat chess grand master Gary Kasparov people said that’s it, computers are smarter than people,” she says. “But it didn’t mean that at all. It means they are processing things faster not that they are thinking better.” Working together she believes robots and humans will be able to create a world of new possibilities impossible before our new industrial revolution.
Gorbis says the robots are already here. The US military is backing the development of a four legged mechanical pack-carrying robot, called the BigDogs. Guided by its own sensors BigDog can navigate treacherous terrain carrying 150kg on its back. In the air robot drones are stalking targets in Afghanistan, remote controlled helicopters are ferrying supplies.
Military technology from the Roman road to the internet has a habit of hitting the mainstream, and robots are already spreading their influence. Robots may soon do building work. The University of Southern California has developed a system called Contour Crafting that allows machines to construct buildings in layers guided by computers. The system can reduce construction times and costs by 75%, according to USC.
In South Korea robots assist teachers in language classes, repeating words and phrases over and over and assessing how well they are parroted back. Google is working on cars that drive themselves. “What is that other than a robot,” says Gorbis. Amazon and shoe retailer Zappos’ huge warehouses are organised by an army of squat orange robots designed by Kiva Systems.
Inevitably the rise of the robots will put people out of work. Gorbis believes that this and other trends will mean unemployment will remain around 10% in many parts of the developed world over the coming years.
“We are in transition. It is similar to when we mechanised agriculture. After that we went through a period of high unemployment as people transitioned to new kinds of jobs. People learned to do other things,” she says.
There is potential for a huge backlash. “But once a technology is invented, it is very rare that it disappears. You can delay the introduction but it is going to be used. If someone can produce something cheaper and faster, you are competing in that environment.”
Robots get a bad press. With a few cute exceptions the robot has been an evil character in movies going back to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis in 1927. In Japan and Korea, where many of the great robot innovators are likely to come from, attitudes are more positive.
Gorbis says there had been some speculation that the Japanese were more attuned to robots because they would rather mechanise than import foreign labour. “I’m not sure that’s true. Whatever the case, there is a fascination with technology. And more political support. In a small aging population perhaps of necessity you think of machines as your labour force,” she says.
We too are likely to take on more robotic features, she believes. “We have been modifying ourselves with technology forever, with eyeglasses, cochlear implants. We are going to see more of that. Sensors are going to be on our bodies, in our bodies letting us and others know what we are doing, what is going on with our health. All kinds of applications we haven’t even thought of yet.”
Gorbis says she is often asked if the future is arriving faster than ever. “I’m not sure that it is,” she says. “We know more, we have access to more information but if you lived during the period of electrification or the building of railroads, I’m sure you really felt the pace of change too. It’s all relative.”
With all this information being bombarded at us it so no wonder that people worry, she said. “I feel schizophrenic myself. Half the time I feel really depressed when I look at say climate change or the potential to misuse technology. But then I get really excited about how we are reinventing ourselves through technology.”
Questions 22 – 27
Choose the correct letter, A, B or C.
22. The IFTF
A. has been a member of RAND since 1968
B. is a client of Marina Gorbis
C. is a well respected organisation
23. Gorbis believes that Deep Blue
A. showed that computers can be smarter than people
B. showed that computers can handle information quicker than peopl
C. showed that computers can think quicker than people
A. are being used in Afghanistan at the moment
B. are able to travel across difficult surfaces
C. can travel with loads in excess of 150kg
25. Gorbis believes that the introduction of new technology
A. is often abandoned
B. does not always result in something cheaper and faster
C. can be postponed
26. Gorbis believe that
A. humans will become more robotic
B. the elderly will welcome robotic developments
C. most of the labour force will be robots
27. Gorbis says that
A. things are changing more rapidly now than in the past
B. the introduction of railways was quicker than any we see today
C. she has mixed feelings about technology
ANSWERS ARE BELOW
15. AN ALERT
18. YOUR REFRIGERATOR