LOOKING back on the first decade of the 21st Century following the first weeks of 2010 feels like looking into a musty old cupboard that has been shut up for a long time.
Once the champagne hangovers had faded and our fears of being obliterated by a Y2K apocalypse had proved unfounded, we made our way back to our hefty desktop computers with their rather erratic dial-up internet connections, armed with clunky plastic mobile phones.
For although much of the technology we now rely so heavily upon was invented late in the previous century, it is the noughties that have seen their development accelerate so dramatically.
Perhaps the most significant development of the past 10 years has been the advancement made in fast, effective internet connection.
As broadband became cheaper and quicker with the capacity to transmit more information, so users turned more readily to the internet to help organise their lives, helping them do everything from shopping to banking to booking a holiday.
And it has also helped drive the development of other significant inventions of the decade such as the iPod, Google and Facebook.
But development of the internet has also created new challenges such as the question of how digital content should be licensed and sold, and how a new breed of fraudsters, hackers and cyber-criminals can be tackled.
Another major focus for technology over the past decade has been tackling security-related issues. Following the attack on New York's Twin Towers in September 2001 and subsequent terrorist attacks or threats, efforts all over the world have been stepped up to tighten security.
The promise of full body scanners in all UK airports demonstrates the significance of the threat and the technology that will help tackle it.
A Durham company that is playing a very significant role in this security battle is Kromek, based in NETPark.
Kromek has already developed a number of security scanners including a liquid scanner which can determine the contents of a bottle without the need to open it – something that promises to play an important role following the attempts to blow up planes with liquid bombs earlier this decade.
So although technology presents society with new challenges as it develops and matures, it also offers us solutions and enormous opportunities. Far from being apprehensive and resistant to the challenges new technology can create, we must embrace it and use it to make our lives better for the future
Stewart Watkins is managing director of the County Durham Development Company