Recommended Reading: What Will Our World Look Like in 2022?

Predicting the future is hard and risky. Predicting the future in the computer industry is even harder and riskier due to dramatic changes in technology and limitless challenges to innovation. Only a small fraction of innovations truly disrupt the state of the art. Some are not practical or cost-effective, some are ahead of their time, and some simply do not have a market. There are numerous examples of superior technologies that were never adopted because others arrived on time or fared better n the market. Therefore this document is only an attempt to better understand where technologies are going. The book Innovators Dilemma and its sequels best describe the process of innovation and disruption.

Nine technical leaders of the IEEE Computer Society joined forces to write a technical report, entitled IEEE CS 2022, symbolically surveying 23 potential technologies that could change the landscape of computer science and industry by the year 2022. In particular, this report focuses on:

  1. Security cross-cutting issues
  2. The open intellectual property movement
  3. Sustainability
  4. Massively online open courses
  5. Quantum computing
  6. Devices and nanotechnology
  7. 3D integrated circuits
  8. Universal memory
  9. Multicore
  10. Photonics
  11. Networking and inter-connectivity
  12. Software-defined networks
  13. High-performance computing (HPC)
  14. Cloud computing
  15. The Internet of Things
  16. Natural user interfaces
  17. 3D printing
  18. Big data and analytics
  19. Machine learning and intelligent systems
  20. Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  21. Life sciences
  22. Computational biology and bioinformatics
  23. Medical Robotics

You can find the comprehensive report here.

Inventing the Future

Alan Kay once said that “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. It is always nice to see efforts to invent the future. Some are small with near term potential and some are large ambitious once. Here are just a couple, I came across today in a mail I received from ACM TechNews.

Intel’s Challenge

“We Challenge You: A Call to Action on Global Issues

Intel’s INSPIRE•EMPOWER Challenge is calling for the best technology solutions to address four areas of global need – education, healthcare, economic development, and the environment. The contest will award seed funding of $100,000 USD to one winner in each category. The Challenge is designed to inspire developers, individuals, and organizations to innovate and empower them to deliver new ways to apply technology to these issues. The INSPIRE•EMPOWER Challenge advances the commitment of the Intel World Ahead Program – to connect people to a world of opportunity.”

You can find out more about Intel’s challenge here.

Expeditions in Computing

This initiative from NSF is a more ambitious one.

The Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) has established four new Expeditions in Computing. Each of these $10 million grants will allow teams of researchers and educators to pursue far-reaching research agendas that promise significant advances in the computing frontier and great benefit to society.

“We created the Expeditions program to encourage the research community to send us their brightest and boldest ideas,” said Jeannette Wing, NSF’s assistant director for CISE. “We received an overwhelming response, and I’m delighted with the results of our first annual competition. The four Expeditions together push both the depth and breadth of our field: pursuing longstanding scientific questions of computing, creating a new field of computational sustainability, experimenting with novel technologies for secure, ubiquitous computing and communications of the future, and exploring what we even think of as computing.”

It covers four broad areas.

  1. Understand, Cope with, and Benefit From Intractability
  2. Computational Sustainability: Computational Methods for a Sustainable Environment, Economy, and Society
  3. Open Programmable Mobile Internet 2020 project
  4. Molecular Programming Project

CISE anticipates hosting an Expeditions competition annually, with three new awards anticipated each year. The deadline for preproposal submission to the second annual Expeditions competition is September 10, 2008.

Do you know of any other initiatives of similar nature around the world. Please add a comment with a link.

LinkLog: Future of Learning

This is from a blog about Stephen Downes seminar in Malaysia on how to use Web 2.0 tools for learning.  It has great links to lots of useful resources for both learners and teachers too.

I especially liked the part about Future Learning Directions

  • Learning as Creation
  • Social Learning
  • Personal Learning Environments
  • Immersive Learning
  • Living Arts

I regularly read Stephen Downes blog and get his newsletter and I learn a lot about learning.

Do one tiny doable thing

I don’t make New Year resolutions (stopped a while ago). But if I had to make one, this is what I would do – Write down the future I want and do one tiny doable thing every day. Fortunately, I am already doing something very close. So it should not be a difficult leap.

Here is some great advice from Throw a lifeline to your future:

Every single day, do one tiny doable thing to make that future happen, and do it the very first thing. You want to write a bestselling novel? Spend 30 minutes a day writing the very first thing you do. Want to run the company you work for? Do one tiny step towards that future before you do the rest of your job. Want to write a great app you can be proud of? Spend the first 30 minutes learning what you have to learn and doing what you have to do to make that happen. What about all the things you’re supposed to do? They can wait for all of 30 minutes while you do some tiny, but constructive, step for you.

I have heard this time and again. A friend of mine gets up every morning and fills up an entire page with writing. Just one page. She tells me that it has been one of the most rewarding habits she developed, in her life.

Working to make your future happen, is an open ended task.  I found some good advice on working on open ended tasks, last year.

Little Innovations: Math Lab in Your Cell Phone

From ZDNet’s Emerging Technology Trends

Israeli scientists have decided to put a math lab in your pocket. They developed a library of math modules which can be installed on almost cell phones available today. So you’ll be able to see graphs or solve equations on your phone while on a train or a bus ride. You’ll also be able to send graphs or formulas by SMS to other students — and to send the results of your exercises to your teacher.

This may just be the beginning. With cameras, ability to play flash, SMS and GPRS, these may become the new devices for augmenting learning.

Digital Generation

We watched a TV program two days ago titled The Next Generation on CNN. It was a fascinating study of the values, interests and the optimism of the next generation. Next Generation is also known as Generation Y, Digital Generation, Net Generation or Digital Natives. Here are some traits described by Intuit Future of Small Business Report – a joint effort by The Institute of Future and Intuit.

Belmont University entrepreneurship professor Jeff Cornwall calls the currently rising Generation Y (ages 5 to 25) “the most entrepreneurial generation ever.” Generation Y is also often called the Digital Generation, the Net Generation, or Digital Natives, since they are the first generation to grow up with digital technologies rather than having to adapt to them. Because of this, they have a unique approach to information, society, and the workplace.

The world of the Digital Generation is Web-based and information rich, more so than any generation in the past. Multi-tasking—listening to an iPod, surfing the net, and text-messaging at the same time—is the norm. Having grown up on both scenario-based video games and the interactive world of the Web, this group believes that all outcomes are possible.

They are not afraid to take risks and try new things and are willing to make mistakes and learn from them. These traits are important seeds for entrepreneurship: Gen Yers are strong conceptually, build on ideas, and adapt or re-invent as needed.

I just came back from a 40 day trip to India and notice very similar trends there too. The Next generation is confident, more affluent than their parents (the ones who managed to get an education) and are much more ambitious.

Watching the CNN program and reading the report, I notice that the following trends will rapidly change the face of business all over the world.

  • The rise of learning without teaching (I call this Limitless Learning)
  • The rise of one person businesses (I run one)
  • Increasing entrepreneurial spirit
  • Leveraging technology (the younger generation is not afraid and very comfortable with technology. Why even a 3 year old knows how to play a video tape or a DVD on TV)
  • Increased use of cell phones for instant communication and text messaging
  • Continuous partial attention (they multi-task much more than the capability I consider human)
  • Limitless exposure through Internet (my 13 year old nephew is an expert in locating information on the net and showing his mom) and the ability to explore and share knowledge.

I am happy for them. I just wish I had all this stuff when I was growing up.

The New Web

This is probably one of the best blogs/columns I read this year. After reading it, I sat thinking about how true it all is. The New Web is just the beginning. Just like the Web before, this will change almost everything we do from getting news to buying stuff to entertaining. For once, it is the participants who decide what the game is. Here are my favorite fragments from this Time’s Person of The Year.

The new Web is a very different thing. It’s a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter.

Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I’m not going to watch Lost tonight. I’m going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana?

It’s a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person.

The New Web is taking shape. It will go by different names and evolove into something none of us foresee. You can call it Web 2.0 or Web 3.0 or Semantic Web. But it is not the technology (though that may help). It is the people. Augmented by technology. As Doug Engelbart would say, it is the co-evolution of people and technology. They aument each other.

Wishing you all a very Happy and Prosperous 2007.

Song Is The King

Paul Saffo says that technologies take 20 years to arrive from invention to our home. In this entry on the significance of iPod, he says:

The iPod is an extraordinary innovation — and still so misunderstood even on the fifth anniversary of its introduction on October 23, 2001. In contemplating it’s significance, it is tempting to focus on the iPod as a device, an artifact that is as beautiful as it is functional. But the device is only the tip of the iceberg, for the greatest long-term impact of the iPod lies in the underlying iTunes music delivery system.

I don’t mean simply the idea of coupling the device with the delivery system. Rather, it is the details of iTunes that makes it revolutionary. With iTunes, Apple accomplished two vast, seismic shifts. First, the iPod ended the era of the album as the basic unit of music sales. For the first time since the demise of 45 singles records, the song is king.

Second, Apple’s iTunes store broke the album-centric economic model that has given the recording industry its vast power.

Nice to get a perspective on a larger trends. You can find Paul’s journal here.