Saturday, July 28, 2018

Looking At The Past Anticipating The Future

I think back to the days (early 1980s, 35 years ago) when I first got into working with computers as a job and not just teaching computer science and mathematics. I like the phrase "Explorers Of The Unknown" to describe those days.

These days we live in "The Wild West" of the Information Age.

I like to think that in another 35 years we may actually have arrived in the early days of the "Cyber Civilization" phase of the Information Age.

I do love the tech we now enjoy and when I remember back to those old explorer days and and then run the tech forward, in my mind, to today I am 'GOB-SMACKED' by the progress. 

Back when I was a child, in the late 1940s-1960s, I used to wish I could communicate with my older self.  At that time I loved math, science and science-fiction and wished I could have been born sometime in the future rather than the time I was actually born. 

Looking around today, I am certain if I communicated with my younger self that past person would be OK with how things (in a technological sense) turned out.

I'm writing this post in 2018, sitting at my 3GHz Multi-Core 64 bit laptop computer not plugged into ANYTHING (well the battery is at 35% so I will plug in the power).

My flat screen resolution would be beyond imagination 35 years ago (they were just
experimenting with plasma-displays). 

If we could transmit the specs of this laptop back in time to those days (early 1980s) some hardware and software engineers could think it came from some alien race.  Never mind describing "The-NET" as it exists today. It was still around ARPA-Net time then, and mass communication was almost entirely one-way.  Here are the specs of today's machine

  Model Name ............ MacBook Pro
  Processor Name ........ Intel Core i5
  Processor Speed ....... 2.9 GHz (112 giga flops)
  Number of Processors .. 1
  Total Number of Cores . 2
  Memory ................ 16 GB
  Disk Drive ............ 0.4 TB (Solid State)
  Camera ................ 720 mgp HD
  Microphone/Headphone .. Stereo Mic/Headphone Jack
  Speakers/Microphones .. Stereo Mic (2) Speakers (2)
  Display ............... 13" 2560x1600 pixels
  Network ............... Blue Tooth - Wireless
  Network ............... WiFi - Wireless
  Ports ................. Power/Battery, Thunderbolt, USB-3, HDMI
  Keyboard .............. Back-Lit with 'Touch-SoftKey-Bar'

I like to think about what the above description may look like 35 years from now. , Assuming I live that long I will be 106 years old (early 2050s.)

My expectation is that I will be 'GOB-SMACKED' (again). 

The tech that serves the same purpose as my MacBook-Pro, iPad and SmartPhone (Laptops, iPads, and SmartPhones may not even exist) will be an integrated system (and highly integrated with the individual) and will look like:
  • Internal Memory/CPU would will have a much larger capacity. The processor, ram, I/O, and OS will be all integrated.
    Apps will be a 'thing-of-the-past' as we currently know them. 
    We will access 'app-stuff' from what today we call the-cloud and pay for them on an 'elapsed-time-meter' scale.  The longer you 'dwell' on the app the more you pay (of course the price metrics for a speed-app vs a contemplative-app would be different).
  • Display/KBD - None (see below)
  • H/W - Just a small package about the size of a few credit cards stacked on top of each other.
  • The OS - "Of course it's an A.I." With speech synthesis and recognition, and image recognition.
  • Some pieces:
    • The small package containing the HW/OS.
    • An 'in-ear' earpiece-mic for each ear.
      • These would basically be worn like contact lenses are today but would be 'active' allowing you to communicate with the small package.
    • A 'button-cam' for your clothing.
      • The computer's autonomous input devices that of course would turn off/mute at private times.  This could also manage 'gesture-recognition' so you could move your hands to manipulate VR-SPACE that you would constantly be exposed to via an overlay on your contact lenses/screen (see below).
    • A pair of contact lenses that would be 'active' and replace current screens.
    • Network - Oh yes, ubiquitous connection and if you had to 'manage/fix/invent some other thing' then you would just open a dialog with it (or a simulation of the thing you are inventing) and go to work. 
    • Of course you could also do manual-stuff like wood, metal, electronics working, sailing, hiking, rock-climbing, swimming, hands-on computer/machinery install/repair or even sweep-the-floor. 

      And for those activities you could either opt-for or opt-not-for a VR-ASSIST when doing them.