Editor's Note: Back to the future?
- 01 August, 1998 12:01
Call me spiteful, but it's always gratifying to hear of a mega-rich honcho of a mega-rich corporation falling prey to "foot-in-mouth" syndrome.
Take the president of IBM in 1945 for instance. He said that there would only ever be a market need of five computers worldwide. How wrong could you be!
And then there was Kenneth Olsen, the founder of Digital Equipment in the late 70s who confidently stated that "there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home". Beep. Wrong again.
Even more pathetic was Bill Gates' ridiculous sense of foresight back in the 80s, when he claimed that "640K ought to be enough for anybody". Beeeeeeeeeeep.
It just goes to show that no one's perfect -- especially when it comes to predicting the future. And having worked nine years in the IT industry -- of which close to five have been spent in journalism -- very rarely have I been stunned by expert predictions of what the future of technology may hold.
However, it wasn't until I wrapped up this month's cover story did I experience otherwise.
The feature, "Walk this Way", was initially designed to celebrate the modern computer's 50th anniversary -- in particular its ability to store a program in its memory. But it wasn't long before the story turned. Instead of a walk down memory lane, it took a giant step into the future -- to the year 2048. By that time, I should be in my late 70s. Hopefully if I'm still kicking fit -- or at least still breathing -- I'll be privileged to witness a world totally foreign to the way it operates today. A world where technology is truly king.
But for those of you who feel time's not on your side, you won't entirely miss out. According to experts, the development stages of some of the foreseen technologies are expected to take place early in the next millennium.
For starters, organs will be cloned at birth. Wafer-thin chips will be either slotted into our "cyber wristbands" or a smaller version inserted under our skin. You can also forget cash, keys and messy passwords. Instead, the world will be dependent on eye scans, palm prints, smart cards et al. Home appliances will also come complete with "personalities"(that's all we need!) and mankind will rely on one global currency.
I certainly have concerns with some of these developments -- like the cloning aspect for instance. Who would regulate it and who's to stop people from going too far? Then there's the eye scans. Obviously the next generation will serve as the ultimate guinea pig -- especially in regard to its long-term effect on health.
And what of Big Brother having access to all that centralised information? Dangerous stuff. However, there are some positive results. Turn to page 10 to find out more.
I would be interested in reading your comments on some of these forecasted developments. Drop me an e-mail.
Angela Prodromou, Editor - Angela_Prodromou@idg.com