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The News – 11/03/00

Rosy Technology Predictions May Be Pessimistic

In a recent paper, George Washington University examines predictions for 85 emerging technologies over the years. Some of their findings indicate the hype isn’t intense enough for some technologies. This feeling is shared by Wired Magazine’s Kevin Kelly, who said in a keynote at the Delphi Corporate Portals Conference, “The Web is underhyped.”

The GWU study cites a few instances of underhyped technology:

Forecasts can often be overly pessimistic, and nowhere has this been more true than in information technology. Microprocessor development has proved so successful that chips are now three times faster than they were predicted to be in the early 1980s. It is as if we have in 1997 computers from the year 2000. By some measures, computer performance has improved a million times since their invention fifty years ago. The problem of pessimism is so notorious that the attitudes of prominent scientists often seem quaint in retrospect. In 1923, Robert Milikin, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, claimed “there is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.” In 1895, Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, said “heavier than air flying machines are impossible.”

The flip side often reflects an optimism bordering on naiveté. Many people still recall predictions in the 1950s that the world would enjoy nuclear power “too cheap to meter.” Or that we would fly personal jets to work and return from 20-hour workweeks to smart homes and robot servants that would prepare dinner automatically.

So the computer on your desk is the equivalent of a million of the room-filling behemoths of the early ‘50s. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Here are some of the computing related predictions for this decade from the experts in the study:

Prediction

Year

Entertainment On-Demand

2003

Videoconferencing

2004

PC Convergence

2005

Distance Learning

2006

Advanced Data Storage

 

Standard Digital Protocol

 

PCS Gains Markets

 

Groupware Systems

2007

Computer Sensory Recognition

 

Modular Software

 

Parallel Processing Computing

2008

Information Superhighway

 

Personal Digital Assistants

 

Intelligent Agents

2009

Ubiquitous Computing Environment

 

Broadband Networks

 

Electronic Banking/Cash

 

Expert Systems

2010

George Washington University

 

Airflash Teams with Excite and Orange on Location-Based Services

Even more progress on the Personal Area Network front. This announcement doesn’t detail exactly how the network will determine proximity. I suspect the user will somehow input his or her location. Still, the future’s coming fast.

Airflash

 


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Canít Get Enough of ME?

In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, Iíve started a Weblog. Itís the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and Iím doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If youíd like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from www.blogger.com. This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.

Iíve dubbed my Weblog entries ďStratletsĒ, and they are available at www.stratvantage.com/stratlets/. Let me know what you think.

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In Memoriam

Gerald M. Ellsworth

March 14, 1928 - July 5, 2003

In Memoriam

Jane C. Ellsworth

July 20, 1928 - July 20, 2003