Technological change has followed a predictable path over the past fifty years, with chips and devices getting smaller, more processes becoming automated, and life becoming more and more convenient.
But today we’re looking ahead to a period of disruption that will upend everything we’ve come to expect.
Over the next ten years, technology will move from automating and replacing manual labor to replacing routine cognitive work. Genomics, nanotechnology and robotics will come to the fore.
In the 1960’s, Intel cofounder Gordon Moore observed that the number of transistors on a circuit was doubling every two years. He predicted that this would lead to computers being embedded in our homes, our cars and more. He was one of the first to predict the digital revolution that has transformed modern life.
But there are only so many transistors that will fit on a chip. Plus, it doesn’t matter how many chips you have if there is too long a delay in them communicating with each other. Therefore, the focus must now move to systems. One idea is called 3D stacking, which would combine integrated circuits into a single three-dimensional chip. New chip designs will be necessary, but the change would increase speed considerably and facilitate continuing progress.
Since the 1960s, expanding computing power has made new applications possible. The development of relational databases in the 1970s made it possible to store and retrieve massive amounts of data, which revolutionized organizational management. Other innovations led to word processing, spreadsheets, the Internet, e-Commerce and mobile computing. It is applications that power the modern world.
These applications take place on what is called von Neumann machines, in which a central processing unit is paired with data and applications stored separately. But now the new demands we are placing on technology, for example the desire for a self-driving car, sees us run up against what is called the von Neumann bottleneck. Now architecture will have to change to enable progress. Various architectures are in development, and soon our devices will automatically switch to the type of architecture that suits a specific application best.
To date, we have looked to firms to launch hit products – like the IBM System/360 or the Apple II – that fostered further successes and industry dominance. But today, companies make their money from platforms – think Amazon Prime, clouding computing, and the Apple App Store. Platforms allow customers to access ecosystems. For example, Amazon’s platform connects the ecosystems of retailers and consumers. The future belongs to companies that know how to widen and deepen the connections between ecosystems.
Finally, we are no longer likely to see the same kind of productivity growth that the US experienced from 1920-1970. The earlier innovations of electricity and the internal combustion engine had broad implications, while the impact of digital technology is more circumscribed. However, digital technology is powering new areas such as genomics and robotics, and these technologies will have a profound impact on society.
We can’t judge the future by the same standards as we used to judge the past. Paradigms shift, and the challenges and opportunities of the future will be both different and disruptive.
For more information, please read:
These 4 Major Paradigm Shifts Will Transform The Future Of Technology | Forbes