From Research to Reality: 21st-Century Information Technology
Human Questions for a Computer Age
“ The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay
Tomorrow Never Knows
Technology is hard to foresee, and it is even harder to predict the impact that technology will have on society.
The 1930 movie Just Imagine presented a bold, if not quite accurate, vision of the future; here Maureen O’Sullivan sits in her personal flying machine.
Tomorrow Never Knows
We can predict the future by recognizing the four phases of any technology or media business: hardware, software, service, and way of life.
Tomorrow Never Knows
Hardware--develop new hardware
Software--software such as television programs, web pages and databases give value to hardware products
Service--companies focus on serving their customers
Way of life--product/service becomes so entrenched that it becomes almost invisible
From Research to Reality
Ideas are sprouting from the minds of engineers and scientists that will collectively shape the future of information technology.
Trends point to those ideas most likely to succeed.
Tomorrow’s Hardware: Trends and Innovations
Speed: computer speed today typically is measured in MIPS (millions of instructions per second), where an instruction is the most primitive operation performed by the processor
Size: central components of a modern computer are stored on a handful of tiny chips
Efficiency: desktop & portable computers consume very little electricity
The IBM S/390 G6 server performs up to 1.6 billion instructions per second—almost 1 billion times the performance of the historic Mark I—at a cost that is far less than a mainframe or supercomputer.
Tomorrow’s Hardware: More Trends and Innovations
Capacity: optical, magnetic, and semiconductor storage devices virtually eliminate storage as an issue
Cost: hardware has dramatically dropped in cost
Alternative chip technologies
Alternative storage technologies
Alternative output displays
Alternative input devices: sensors
“ Smart dust” computers at the University of California at Berkeley help monitor and control heating and cooling systems using environmental sensors and wireless communication links
Tomorrow’s Software: Evolving Applications and Interfaces
Computer scientists aren’t even close to developing tools that will allow programmers to produce error-free software quickly. However, software technology is advancing rapidly.
WIMP : (windows, icons, menus, and pointing devices) interface is easier to learn and use than earlier character-based interfaces
SILK : for speech, image, language, and knowledge capabilities.
SILK incorporates many important software technologies:
Speech and language: voice recognition systems, natural-language processing
Image: three-dimensional models, animation, and video clips; virtual reality interfaces
Knowledge: self-maintaining systems
Tomorrow’s Service: Truly Intelligent Agents
Agents are software programs designed to be managed rather than manipulated.
An intelligent software agent:
asks questions as well as responds to commands
pays attention to its user’s work patterns
serves as a guide and a coach
takes on its owner’s goals
uses reasoning to fabricate goals of its own
More on Intelligent Agents
Wizards and other agent-like software: guide users through complex tasks and answer questions when problems arise
Bots: software robots that crawl around the Web collecting information, helping consumers make decisions, answering email, and even playing games
Future Software Agents
A well-trained software agent in the future might accomplish these tasks:
Remind you that it’s time to get the tires rotated on your car
Distribute notes to the other members of your study group
Manage your appointments and keep track of your communications
Defend your system and your home from viruses, intruders, and other security breaches
Detect your emotional state and respond accordingly
Tomorrow’s Way of Life: Transparent Technology “ This will be the generation where the technology disappears into the tool, serving valuable functions but keeping out of the way – the generation of the invisible computer.” Donald A. Norman
Computers are disappearing into more of our tools.
Information appliances, including cell phones, fax machines, and GPS devices, perform their specialized functions while hiding the technological details from their users.
Wearable computers : strap-on units for active information gatherer
CPUs, keyboards, and touchpads stitched right into the clothes, turning their wearers into wireless Internet nodes
Examples of ubiquitous computers are smart badges and smartboards
While ubiquitous computers offer convenience and efficiency beyond anything that’s come before, they also raise serious questions about personal privacy, intimacy, and independence.
From Internet to Omninet
Connectivity is a critical part of ubiquitous computing.
As more machines become connected, the Net will evolve from today’s loose digital fishnet into a tightly-woven, seamless fabric that surrounds us.
The Day after Tomorrow: Information Technology Meets Biology
Bio-economy will replace the information economy sometime around the year 2020.
Biotechnology and microtechnology will become more intertwined with information technology in the coming decades .
Borrowing from Biology
The network of the future will be more like a biological system.
Neural nets allow individual computers to learn from experience because their design is inspired by biological nervous systems.
Research is being conducted in neurons electronically linked onto chips for communication; this type of research could eventually lead to artificial retinas and prosthetic limbs that are extensions of the human nervous system.
Use microtechnology to develop micromachines—machines on the scale of a millionth of a meter.
Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) : for example, a motor twice as wide as a human hair that runs on static electricity
Microsensors - tiny devices that can detect pressure, temperature, and other environmental qualities
BioMEMS - apply chip technology to biological applications may soon cure many forms of deafness, enable many blind people to see images and navigate, stimulate paralyzed limbs, diagnose bacterial agents, determine drug safety, and deliver drugs precisely where they’re needed.
Nanotechnology - the manufacture of machines on a scale of a few billionths of a meter
Nanomachines would have to be constructed atom by atom using processes drawn from particle physics, biophysics, and molecular biology.
Nanotubes - tiny cylindrical molecules with semiconductor properties similar to those found in silicon chips; could lead to quantum computers —computers based on the properties of atoms and their nuclei and the laws of quantum mechanics
Artificial life: synthetic organisms that act like natural living systems
Simple software organisms that exist only in computer memory or…
colonies of tiny insect robots that communicate with each other and respond to changes in their environment.
Human Questions for a Computer Age
Will Computers Be Democratic?
Will the Global Village Be a Community?
Will We Become Information Slaves?
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
The computer is a powerful and malleable tool. It can be used to empower or imprison, to explore or exploit, to create or destroy. We can choose. We’ve been given the tools. It’s up to all of us to invent the future.
If I have seen farther than other men, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants. — Isaac Newton