What Will Computers Look Like in 30 Years?
64 is the New 16
The picture above is the front panel from my very first computer, a 1982, Data General Nova 1200. It was the cat's pajamas because it allowed me to enter two characters (16 bits) at a time, instead of eight bits (a byte). I was pleased as punchcards to enter my twelve-letter name in under a minute in binary code. Today, I talk into my 64 bit smart phone, and as quick as my kids, it talks back.
My point, (before I forget it), is that I went from toggle switches to voice recognition in just 30 years. From DOS to Windows. From the first Mac to the latest iPhone. From Pong to Angry Birds. What advancements will I, (yes, I mean me), see in the next 30 years? What changes in computers will you see in your lifetime? It's truly mind boggling.
Here is what I think future computers will be like.
Before posting an article about the future of computers, any blogger worth their weight in silicon will research Moore's Law, the law named after Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore.
As I understand it, Moore's Law, (more of an observation turned prediction that has more or less held up), can be described as shown by this Intel press kit infographic:
The problem I have with Moore's law is that I cannot relate it to anything. I couldn't tell you how many transistors are in this computer I am using now or what Mr. Moore paid for them. It does not compute in my brain.
So, just like my flash memory hero Gordon, I present this new law to you with the hope that it is well adopted by the general public and I am generously awarded Intel stock.
From Boyle to Newton, the best laws are self-explanatory, come with a catchy phrase and a cool drawing. There is probably some research that goes along with it, but I imagine that can be exhausting.
Computers of Tomorrow
Today's computers operate using semiconductors, metals and electricity. Future computers might use atoms, dna or light. Moore's Law predicts doubling, but when computers go from quartz to quantum, the factor will be off the scale.
What would the world be like, if computers the size of molecules become a reality? These are the types of computers that could be everywhere, but never seen. Nano sized bio-computers that could target specific areas inside your body. Giant networks of computers, in your clothing, your house, your car. Entrenched in almost every aspect of our lives and yet you may never give them a single thought.
What will computers look like in 30 years? Trick question. You won't see them at all.
Ubiquitous computers are in the works.
Grasping the Technologies
Understanding the theories behind these future computer technologies is not for the meek. My research into quantum computers was made all the more difficult after I learned that in light of her constant interference, it is theoretically possible my mother-in-law could be in two places at once.
If you have the heart, take a gander at the most promising new computer technologies. If not, dare to imagine the ways that billions of tiny, powerful computers will change our society.
The Personal Computer Assistant
I must admit that in some ways I envy Donald Trump. Not because of all the real estate he owns or even for his cool private helicopter. No, what I envy most about The Donald is his apprentice. Who wouldn't appreciate giving any chore that comes to mind, to an eager and competent assistant? After time, a good apprentice might even anticipate your needs. "Pink tie today, Mr. Trump?". Now apply this same kind of relationship model to the future of computing.
In the future, the number of tiny but powerful computers you encounter every day will number in the thousands, perhaps millions. You won't see them, but they will be all around you. Your personal interface to this powerful network of computers could come from a single computing device that is worn on or in the body.
Aside from providing one 24/7 interface to the myriad of computers and sensors that you will have access to, like a good apprentice, this computing device would come to know your personal preferences and sometimes make decisions on your behalf.