A discussion of the future...

Posted 11/18/95

Kevin Poses:
>Will computers make us work harder? Probably not.
>Will they make us not have to work as hard? Probably so.

Uncle John's Answer:

Computers will allow us to work period. As we progress down the path thru the "information revolution", our only hope of gaining the next level is the digital computer. We've done all we can do with raw steel and aluminum. To do more we have to control the properties of not only our materials, but of our designs. I mean that if we freeze computer technology at 1995, then i don't think the world will look or act any different in ten years. Shapes will change, but cars will be cars. Toasters will be toasters. and steel will be steel. What if steel were something else? Like a micro-engineered alloy that is non-homogeneous, with properties controlled at a microscopic level and variable over space and time.

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You could "grow" a car out of these kinds of materials and nanometric construction techniques. and the body of the car could change depending on the environment or situation, Stiffen up in the corners for stability, loosen up for comfort on straights. But to figure out the engineering, we must have information processors hundreds of times more powerful than those in 1995.

What I want computers to be is the equivalent to our minds that glasses are to our nearsighted eyes. They should only be apparent to us when we think about them, otherwise they should just make us operate better. They are like a prosthesis for a limb we still have but want to work better. Computers and particularly networks should be a "bolt-on" upgrade to our minds. They have really not passed beyond the "microscope" stage (to stay with the optical paradigm). We must walk up to them and operate them. PDA's are the first step. Well, the digital watch was really it, but it was so limited, however that is changing. Actually the wristwatch is a better analogy than glasses. It is a precise replacement for our somewhat subjective sense of time. If you wear one long enough (about a week) you forget it is there, use it often, and feel naked when you leave it on the dresser for the day. As for PDA's, they are toys yet, and they don't have mass appeal because of it. When they are more powerful, and compatwerful, and compatible with other things, they will start to actually become ubiquitous.

I see pda's that fit into a 5 1/4" docking slot at night, spend the night downloading email, and the news, and are ready to go in the morning. They are a part of the computer, but standalone, like a removable information symbiont. The docking could be non physical. spread spectrum rf or ir, and if you want, and the system is built, they will be hooked in all the time. An "air network" that is affordable. The beginnings are in place. The cost is too high yet, but just wait. Wireless networking on a global scale is coming.

well, i gotta sleep. tomorrow's another day of hard work :)

Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 by John M. Meyer. All rights reserved. The Alien Mind is not associated with any earthly company or its products.

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