Thursday, May 20, 2004

IT's Big 3


San Francisco State University

Of all the technological issues we have discussed during the entire semester (corporate and consumer level), what are the top three things that will influence our lives in the next five years? Justify in a few paragraphs.

Networking, digital and integration and the top three areas that should influence our lives in the next five years. Under the assumption that nano and sensor technology comes about as promised, there will be no limit to a fully integrated networked digital world We’ve already heard about mobile phones that can transmit ideas and even smells but what about the reality of integrating the IT to power this new world? Once technology has the ability to sense, the living and information worlds will collide to extend life I believe.

According to Carli Fiorina the CEO of the new Hewlett Packard corporation, the language for the network is digital, real-time is the definition of networked, and integration is getting things to talk to each other.

The analog to digital conversion is still taking place and should be completed in the next five years. Even the internet still runs over copper lines for the last mile, but is very close to being fully digital. Under MetCalfe’s law, for each smart device that’s connected to the fully integrated and digital internet, adds power exponentially.

That’s quite scary considering there are hundreds of millions of users on the net. An example of the power of digital, real-time integration might be spamming a foul smell into a cell phone and disrupting the entire network, similar to a stink bomb. Of course there are powerful uses that only one can imagine about, most of which will probably be in medicine.

At Stanford’s bases group, I witnessed a presentation by a leading venture capitalist and techno enthusiast who mentioned that he already uses real time integrated sensor technology over a network to know every single morning what time his elderly mother wakes up. He lives far away from her and she has a terminal illness. The new model allows for IT to act as a 3rd party with intelligence and not just an information system with sensor technology. In other words, the millionaire and Stanford cardinal had a cheap watch dog made up of Radio Shack components because of MetCalfe’s law. He could know down the second whether his mother took her medication or woke up late and could respond in a life threatening emergency.

Clearly, the world will be different in five years after the analog to digital conversion is complete, and the various networks around the world are fully integrated, and we’re able to move information around the globe in real time from any device.

I’m a believer that the information revolution has just begun and the next 96 years will be loaded with some amazing surprises. I think the next boom will be when IT meets nano-medicine.

John Acheson in 2004 before Web 2.0 i.e. the rise of Google (search), MySpace (community), YouTube (pull), etc.

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