I often find myself day dreaming about the future of computers and how this massive human experiment is going to play out over the next few decades. I was well into my passion for technology when the Internet, as we know it today, became commercially available in 1992 and restriction-less (within open standard guidelines) in 1995. There was a lot in those days that didn’t make sense and we were all sort of going on instinct as we explored the “shiny” that the Internet offered. For those of you not of a technology or geeky mind, the term “shiny” is a universal term for anything that is new or interesting that we’ve never seen or used before. I’ve had dozens of “shiny” things in my life that continue to evolve.
What does the future bring?
The future is limitless, really! We are only hindered by the limits of our imaginations and the possibilities of current tech. There are hundreds of examples in the last 40 years where we thought of something, saw there wasn’t technology to make it reality and literally invented something to make it happen. The UNIX operating system is a perfect example that most people can understand. A programming language was developed in parallel to allow the operating system to not only function, but run other applications written in “C”. Having gone through several iterations, including C++ and C#, UNIX is a universally accepted operating system around the world. Linux was born from UNIX and for years attempted to mirror itself to Microsoft Windows, but never garnered the popularity it needed to be anything other than a hard core only type of system. Of course this is my opinion and my facts could be slightly biased.
A good place to see the imagination of the future is in movies. The best example that I could think of recently is the reboot of Star Trek. The one with Chris Pine, not William Shatner. The thought that went into designing the fully functional (yes, functional) sets was absolutely amazing and the proof is in the authenticity the film if you’re paying attention to that. The computers used, the way they interacted with the controls and the oddity of some of the tools all contributed to this authenticity. My day dreams will reflect on what people 40 years ago were thinking when they were holding the first prototype of the IBM 8086. I imagine they were all scratching their heads thinking “What the hell can we use this thing for?”.
Near future possibilities
We’re on the verge of a major leap in technology in regards to how we interact with it. No longer is the keyboard and mouse going to be the go to accessories. Instead, we’re going to be using our hands, gestures, facial expressions and our voices to interact with technology. The fear I have is that we’re becoming so reliant on technology to do everyday tasks that we’re losing our ability to get things done without the aid of technology. Example – A cashier punching in $200 instead of $20, seeing the mistake and going “deer in the headlights” trying to figure out how to give you change. It’s an old persons example though…… What is this “cash” you speak of?
I expect the future of computers to continue a little longer in the physical form though. A physical keyboard and mouse is my preferred method of interaction as I have an insane requirement to be in control of my interactions with technology. “Automatic” things being done based on behavior is the precipice of artificial intelligence; a terribly frightening thing that we as humans should be more concerned about. Certain things should not be done “because we can” no matter how “shiny” they appear to be. Anyone seen Terminator lately? How about The Matrix? Anyone read any stories related to the “grey goo”? Yeah, scary stuff indeed.