Like most people, I look at the world around me and see huge disconnects between cultures. There is no final straw, but seeing the recent protest in Saudi Arabia by women against the ban on them driving cars pretty much sums up how much global difference there is in value sets. We generally assume our own is the right one.
Ian Pearson of international company Futurizon in Ipswich on the technologies of the future and the economic and social backdrop.
Visit: Futures Blog
I have blogged quite often about the potential for graphene. It is a wonderful new material, and best of all is a British discovery.
Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal mesh like chicken wire. It is hard to make in large quantity so is still expensive, but already its mechanical, electrical and chemical properties have been thoroughly measured. It impresses across the board.
Henry Markram, director of both the Blue Brain and the Human Brain Project at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, is working on a nice project that aims are to make a working replica of the brain by reverse engineering it.
Drones (autonomous flying vehicles), are becoming very routine equipment in warfare. They are also making market impacts in policing and sports. I first encountered them in 1981 when I started work in missile design.
A long time ago it occurred to me that if ink contained small particles that could hold digital information, a signature by pen on paper could act as a digital signature, too.There are lots of ways that particles small enough to be suspended in ink can hold data. But data storage is only one of several different potential uses.
Although I am definitely an engineer underneath, I’d be the first to accept that futurology is often more of an art, distinguishing the likely from the possible.
We are not very good at keeping things simple. Computers get ever more complex and power hungry, but it doesn't need to be that way.
It's always good to compare today with yesterday. Thirty years ago, the VAX 750 was typical of computers used to provide perfectly adequate office automation to entire departments of big companies.
Each one easily served 30 or 40 people. It only ran at 0.5MIPS if my memory serves me well, good by standards at the time.
By comparison the new Kindle Fire runs at 6.2GIPS, and those are 64bit instructions, not 16 (actually, I'm not sure the VAX even used 16). So the Kindle does 12,000 times as many calculations per second as the VAX, on far bigger numbers.
We use it to read books or browse the net, but a Kindle Fire could run office automation for half a million people.
It's getting interesting now, again. Not long ago, there was the bog standard PC in most homes and offices, running Windows, some Macs for those with a more arty streak, and a few IT enthusiasts running Linux.
There has been a lot of enthusiasm from train enthusiasts over the announcement of £9Bn investment over the next several years 'providing a modern railway for the 21st century'. I think what they really mean is 'forcing a continuation of a 20th century railway into the mid 21st century. It is an opportunity missed. I think the money could be much better spent.
There seems to be lots to worry about at the moment, but we'll get past it.
Tim Berners Lee recently raised concern that thanks to the spread of apps for newspaper delivery, more of the web is becoming inaccessible to search engines.
Soon, with the new visors appearing at the end of the year, the screen could be an augmented reality display. And since the computing is being done by your PC, the ‘computer’ that you interact with could actually be anything at all visually. Like a banana for example.
It is already quite a week on the web, with the enormous backlash against the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). Very many sites and blogs (mine included) joined the protests, with the view that if the act was passed, it would give the music and film industries enormous power over what everyone else can or can’t do.
Some people in the media world are terrified their businesses will be wiped out by new technology such as pads, clouds and augmented reality, but they won’t, not if they take the opportunities it brings.
The sad passing of Steve Jobs has led many to speculate about what will come next. I blogged about the future for Apple a while ago, looking at their alarming new tendency to use the courts to win instead of relying on better design.
- Star Trek – 45 years of inspiring engineering
- Social networking and changing politics
- Active skin - Convergence of nano-bio-info-cogno technologies
- Top pay for top people
- Retail and Marketing Futures
- Spreading the recessionary pain
- Will we ever get the information superhighway?
- Google, Tungsten and chips everywhere
- Look after your data, or lose it
- The battle ahead for control of the IT industry
- The decade ahead
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