On the Future of Computing

This is a guest post by Robert Stern, Web Developer at Reenhanced and the winner of the Chrome OS competition. Robert says he’s interested in the future and science fiction and one his favorite books is “Accelerando“, by Charles Stross. “I’ve been following your blog for awhile and it’s amazing how far Google has come from its humble start as a search engine. This is especially true if you think about the other search engines that existed when Google first launched. There are now millions of people with phones running an operating system released by Google. Soon there could be millions of laptops and TVs running their software as well. It’s very exciting to see where they will go next.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in this contest. It was really difficult to find a winner because there were so many interesting essays.

Today we carry around devices that are as powerful as our desktops were ten years ago. We have bandwidth that would have been unobtainable to most individuals. These trends show no signs of slowing.

Five years out, wireless connection speed will exceed broadband. Many families will cease having home internet, similar to how many families no longer have home telephones. More and more is already being done through mobile devices instead of desktop computers. The majority of purchases will begin to be completed through mobile devices, beginning to supplant cash and credit cards.

Cell phones and other mobile computing devices will become more powerful due to the increase in bandwidth, utilizing the CPUs and GPUs of machines in the cloud. Storage will be nearly limitless and extremely redundant. Upgrading to new devices will only require signing in; your existing data and preferences will be restored from the cloud.

Ten years out, sensors and processors will be built into most products and even roads. More importantly, they will be linked together, providing massive amounts of data. This data will allow for extremely accurate traffic analysis, home electricity conservation, and even assist in getting ready for work or school in the morning.

Computation will be nearly effortless. It’ll be even easier to access knowledge and trivia. Computing through glasses will finally be more feasible, as technology improves enough to fit displays in normal sunglasses. New input methods will allow individuals to search and access vast amounts of information at all times. They will be able to instantly compare prices, allow for nearly instantaneous translation between spoken languages, real time subtitling, and instantly look up movies or music by simply a line or scene.

Twenty years out, computing will cease to be something separate and discrete. It will be integrated in everything. Video displays will be built into contacts. Input will be far more discrete and possibly sublingual or even using an advanced form of EEG. The internet will be a literal extension of your brain.

Self driving cars will have begun to become common. Computing power will be spread across the entire planet. Wireless will be everywhere and speeds that we could only imagine today and holograms will allow for 3D video communication.

The aspects of the future of computing can be seen today. Chrome OS stores its data in the cloud. If you upgrade your machine, your data and preferences come with you. Android is similar.

Through cloud virtualization, we have already begun to see netbooks and other dumb terminals play games and access programs that would never run on their hardware alone. Google has created and tested self-driving cars and their navigation and traffic analysis products will only improve with time. Voice transcription has reach incredible accuracy, as has language translation.

These incredible accomplishments and the current technology in development show that things that would have been considered science fiction ten years ago, are now coming into use. All of this and the existence of companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple, competing with one another and redefining the definition of computing, points towards a great future for technology.