Connected Next Century - Summary
To attempt to predict the next 101 years is not as easy as it might seem. The rear-view mirror of technology history reveals many things. There is a certain comfort in knowing the how in we got here. But that can also be at times constraining. Having a past means a culture and a memory and the benefit of possibility, but also the challenge of remaining rooted in reality. As with any reading of the proverbial tea leaves, the future is a function of the current state of mind. Where we are, as a market, as a culture, as a group, and as individuals is where our potential future lies. While external factors like innovation, entrepreneurialism, desperation, and Moore’s law all play a role in the DNA of evolution, as technologists our ability to adapt for another century will be dependent on our ability to recognize new talent, new ideas, and nurture our organic metamorphosis to take the leaps, cross the thresholds, and convince others to risk the capital. If you ask an average every day millennial what is important, the answers might incongruent with previous or even subsequent generations. While this is not unexpected, it needs to be understood. But this is not a study in generational behavior, but to guesstimate the future requires a understanding of the now.
Our future, if based on the recent past, hints that our ubiquitous digital information age too will evolve into the next something new, waiting for an economist or sociologist to assign it a name. But names do not make an age nor a generation, those are left for people to define how new ideas weave into the fabric of our lexicon and transparent behaviors. If we look to the here and now, the current creative and technological trajectories, we can begin to paint a picture of where we are going. We long ago crossed into the digital age, and are now a few evolutions of Mr. Moore’s law into the data age. What we are headed towards is the age of automation, empowered by artificial intelligence. We are species that both embraces the ambient, but also fears the unknown. Leave it to Hollywood to frame the known and fanatical world of both. The artificial and the augmented.
As we stand at the dawn of the next era of technology, we see that the digital dependency on compute resources is being pulled into the vortex of physical evolving into a virtual world. What were once rooms filled with thousands of cycles of compute, became millions sitting on our desks. It did not take long before someone realized that we could go back in time architecturally to go forward in technologically. By combining the compute needs from disparate unrelated services and underused systems, virtualization could maximize compute cycles on a smaller number of machines to do more than before. What started as a room full of single compute became an office floor covered in discrete machines, became a room full of distributed server compute for hundreds of companies all running more efficiently and more and more often publicly. While there is not a technological law that describes this, there is unwritten the acknowledgement that technology architecture tends to repeat itself over time, and the spoils are left to the innovative.