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A few thoughts on the future...

Not my future in particular, just technology in general and how I see what's ahead.

During my last meeting with yamavu, we talked a bit about how computers
and technology in general is coming along these days and how I would see what's ahead.

Currently, there seem to be two extreme views on our outlook: the "it-won't-change-much-at-all"
view and the "omfg-star-trek-is-going-to-happen-soon" view.

Since I work with computers for all of my professional career (a whooping 20 years almost)
I think I can word my own view here.

Let's compare what is happening now with computers with what happened with cars, shall we?

The car was invented about the turn of the last century (1885 if I'm not mistaken) and
initially was an oddity for the rich and powerful as well as the military. Broad civil use
started around the late 1920's I think, later in the non-Ford-driven countries (or is that "driving"? :)
Around the 1950's and 1960's "future researchers" (a.k.a. sci-fi fans who successfully
pretended that they were actual scientists) predicted all sorts of whacky car models that
the future will bring: cars with kitchens, floating cars, flying cars, submarine cars, etc.
And they told us: "This is what all our future cars will look like!"
Now, 50 some years later, what has become true? We do have "cars with kitchens" - RV's
and the military also has floating cars but has any of this become the "norm"? No. And
I don't think it ever will be either. Because everything predicted was just special
use cases for special people's needs. We did however get improvements in the basic design:
lower wind resistance, Antilock Break Systems, Power Steering, Airbags... the list is
long. But none of these were popular predictions.

Which brings me to computers. Computers were invented during WWII - around 1940 - by the
military. Broad civil use started around the rise of the Personal Computer - during the
mid 1970's. That's roughly the same timespan as it is with cars. And then the different
ideas were thrown into the mix, some proved OK others just silly. Some useful stuff
might have been canned just because it wasn't lucrative. Anyhow: "future researchers" (again!)
predict all sorts of weird computer stuff to happen up to the point that they actually think
"The Matrix" is just around the corner. Personally I think that - like with cars - the
computers are going to be improved for more efficiency. That is: faster, bigger memories,
larger data throughput with less space and power consumption. But that's about it.

If we want to have another "big technology wave" we have to look at completely new
technologies. Something that wasn't there before. Computers as we have them today
can do pretty much anything we could want a computer to do. They even can read
and understand our voices - which needs much further improvement of course but still:
the basic feature is already here.

So the real interesting question to ask isn't "What's the technological future of computers?" but
rather "What's the next big technological fab going to be?"

Here, have a cookie if you read all of this! ;)


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 21st, 2010 08:17 am (UTC)
Well.. one thing I think is notable, is how flash drives have become so Star Trek... who would've guessed we'd be handing these things around so soon, when so many Star Trek things are still waaaaaaay off in the future? :D

btw... I still have that that wonderful CE vs Ants on my desktop... that was such a fun surprise! Thanks Again!! *hug* ^v^
Nov. 25th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
Like I said: bigger (i.e. smaller in that case :), better, faster... but not really revolutionary different.

Awww... I wouldn't have guessed that that little doodle would bring such joy. Glad you like it! *hugs*
Nov. 23rd, 2010 08:19 am (UTC)
*noms the cookie and wags*

Quite true. I guess what makes people think of "whoa-star-whatever" is that they're hardly able to keep track of all the new inventions/technology and features AND beause they hardly understand how it works. Touch screens aren't new but there was no place on the market before. But with todays multimedia and cheap hardware it becomes interesting again. Large market allows cheap production what allows more consumers to buy it. Technology manages the jump to broad-mass use if its merged with other technologies. Touch screen + fast hardware + mobile connection = fun.

Having star trek become reality would mean to have a cheap, not dangerous and efficent engine. Together with fast computers and shiny screen it would for sure be fun. But that'a a looong road ahead. Wait - did anyone ask McGyver about a soultion already?
Nov. 25th, 2010 09:05 pm (UTC)
Actually I think the next big revolution would be a reliable, reasonably save and mostly clean energy source that has at least competetive prices. I'm not asking miracles like "free, powerful and clean" - realistic alternatives would suffice.

By now we don't really need replacement for fossil fuels, e-cars actually are a reasonable alternative now, but charging them still is the problem.

I think McGyver still is looking for about 1 million more paper clips to build his fusion generator :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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