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Reaching a Technical Ceiling?
Old 09-20-2013, 11:36 AM   #1
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Reaching a Technical Ceiling?

Just watched a brief interview on MSNBC, with John McAfee of McAfee antivirus. While I didn't get the whole interview, I think he was talking about a new computer paradigm...

As I read the discussion, he was saying that, contrary to most thinking about computers being at the forefront of a technical based economy... that we have reached a plateau, where there is so much "out there" that there isn't much profit in future advances. He was talking operating systems and extensive programs that have traditionally been at the forefront of tech advances... Programs that coincidentally have provided the producers large proftis... I am thinking "Quicken", "Microsoft Office", Windows 8, etc. He was pointing out the relatively minor differences in new releases, and the plethora of "free" stuff... and apps that have limited income potential. Am thinking of hardware, too... like color being a big selling feature for Iphones.

"Everything's up to date in Kansas City... They've gone about as far as they can go"...

So, now we see the "Dick Tracy" Watch, "Chromecast", and cloud computing as the exciting new stuff... 5 terrabyte drives as being common, and exponential growth of social internet connections.

The question is, where is this headed? Are Apps and ITunes the moneymakers for the future? How many new roll outs of phones and tablets and accessories will there be? Who will be there to buy the 10T drive? How much faster will the next computer be... and more important , "WHY".

It's almost as expensive to get rid of an old computer and monitor, as it is to buy a new one...

Do you see a technical ceiling... ?
... and... what about the need for tech employees?
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:41 AM   #2
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The computers can't program themselves, not yet at least. Only then will many tech jobs go away and, if you believe much science fiction, so will everything else.
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Old 09-20-2013, 02:39 PM   #3
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Consider the source - McAfee was hiding from police with 15 year old girls on some Central American island a year ago. In 1899, then Patent Commissioner, Charles H. Duell reportedly announced that, "everything that can be invented has been invented." And so it goes...
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Old 09-20-2013, 03:00 PM   #4
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I think we are moving in the direction of smart phones becoming tricorders, and we have a long way yet to go.
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Old 09-20-2013, 06:51 PM   #5
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'Build it and they will come.'

The biggest challenge for technology is the BS that ignorant SR. management read, hears, and believes. There are no magic silver bullets, yes some tools and basic functions might be better.

The biggest challenge that faces most large IT organizations is how to support the new code being deployed with the newest magic bullets in it. Many developers no longer understand the basics of how computers actually work. So everything is virtual, until it gets deployed!

There are huge opportunities for new apps to drive down the cost of doing business, improving life, health....

Just my somewhat humble opinion.

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Old 09-20-2013, 07:06 PM   #6
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I think the future is in software. Not the stuff consumers see and use. Probably the stuff that manages the interconnections between sensors and devices. For example, the software behind smart grids.
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Old 09-20-2013, 07:35 PM   #7
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I've been in IT for 25 years, I grew up with computers such as the Timex-Sinclair (which I built myself), the TI99/4a, and was a VAX and then UNIX admin and part developer/dba and a bunch of other stuff that I have fogotten about.

Here is my take. I actually believe quite the opposite of the McAfees of the world. I believe we are at the beginning of one of the largest technology led evolutions in the history of mankind. I equate this time period in analogous way to the point in history when the Guttenberg press was invented. Cloud and connectivity and low cost of admission is making it possible for all humans to partake in knowledge and insight. This is the digital equivalent of humans beginning to learn to read just as it was with the invention of the first printing press.

While it is true that many of the foundational IT skills have faded, the new wave of development and cloud based architectures is opening up entirely new parts of the field. Big Data, mobile, social, cloud are all buzzwords, but there is meaning to all of it.

As an example, take a startup company like Zapier: http://www.zapier.com

Their entire strategy is built upon connecting cloud "stuff" together. They are sort of the legos of the new digital world. For example, if you have a spreadsheet in Google Drive and you want new entries that are made in that to automatically create invoices in QuickBooks, set a follow up task in Basecamp, and then drive CRM intitatives through SalesForce, this can all be done with a few clicks. The world today in a competetive sense revolves around vast amounts of data that is mined like gold in search of insights.

The opportunities that the new breed of entrepenuers is harvesting is very interesting to me. I see this as a wave of unheard of levels of connectivity, data synchronization and generation of knowledge and insight on a scale that we have never seen before.

The next 20 year will see some incredible technology, much in the field of medicine. The blending of man and machine will drive ethical issues and the ability for the average human to live more than 100 years will be a reality.

There is a journal that I subscribe to called the Futurist. It is a great publication with topics that really inspire discussion like this.

My 2 cents, we certainly have come a long way since the days of computers like the Timex that had 64 bytes of RAM!
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Old 09-20-2013, 07:53 PM   #8
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One additional contribution. Martyp hit the nail on the head, the world is about connectivity and the embedding of smart devices in nearly everything we encounter daily. The Libellium movement is quite interesting. Their Waspmote open source based wireless sensor networks are being embedded in everything from asphalt (to create smart phone based parking space systems) to furniture to monitor urban air quality levels.

Libelium - Connecting Sensors to the Cloud

If you spend a few minutes on their site, you can see some interesting work that is going on.
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Old 09-20-2013, 08:48 PM   #9
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Automation requires a lot of programming (machine vision, 3D printing, robotics)

Autonomous driving cars...tons of software, better mapping

Virtual reality could be a big driver of faster computers and petabyte hard drives. Something along the lines of Snow Crash or even the world in Caprica.

How much would I pay for the actual, can't tell the difference between virtual and real, walk in a crater on the moon or mars? I would pay quite a bit more than a I-pad costs!

When we start seeing posts about the best quantum entanglement router deal on Amazon, then maybe we are nearing a ceiling.
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Old 09-20-2013, 09:08 PM   #10
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There are some physical limits to the size current hardware technology can be shrunk, which implies some limits to the increases in speed and density of current compute power. However there are alternate technologies being developed. We have hit these limits before moving from vacuum tubes to semiconductors to silicon wafer integrated circuits. There are some alternate materials and some alternate technologies that can get us past the currently visible limits. There is no reason to think that with the vastly powerful compute engines we currently have and ingenuity of enough people that we cannot get past the known visible limits. New bulk storage technologies will likely make hard disks obsolete with densities 1000x current maximums and speeds similarly improved in only a few years, and that's just the first generation. Huge advances are possible in software and parallelization. Machine learning is in it's infancy. Natural language processing and machine programing are showing promise to increase software development speed and effectiveness beyond current labor intensive methods. Smart tags and distributed intelligence on a scale well beyond what's been done so far are similarly promising to radically improve machine intelligence. We are on the verge of self driving cars, something that only a few years ago was unthinkable as a possible practical development. Cell phones routinely contain compute power beyond that of advanced computers in years past, and seem to be accelerating their use and application. Developments in medical procedures, drugs, materials science, polymers, robotics, 3d manufacturing, genetics and cellular biology are staggering and likely accelerating. Human/machine interfaces are still making huge advances beyond typing and pointing.

Redeveloping yet another operating system or a spreadsheet program are likely dead ends and there are probably limited advances coming there, but there are no reasons to be limiting ourselves to redoing what's been done before. There's no end of advancement possible in new areas and new advances in hardware speed, capacity and software complexity will continue to open new technologies and new ways to use those new technologies.
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Old 09-20-2013, 09:49 PM   #11
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There are some physical limits to the size current hardware technology can be shrunk, which implies some limits to the increases in speed and density of current compute power. However there are alternate technologies being developed. We have hit these limits before moving from vacuum tubes to semiconductors to silicon wafer integrated circuits. There are some alternate materials and some alternate technologies that can get us past the currently visible limits. There is no reason to think that with the vastly powerful compute engines we currently have and ingenuity of enough people that we cannot get past the known visible limits. New bulk storage technologies will likely make hard disks obsolete with densities 1000x current maximums and speeds similarly improved in only a few years, and that's just the first generation. Huge advances are possible in software and parallelization. Machine learning is in it's infancy. Natural language processing and machine programing are showing promise to increase software development speed and effectiveness beyond current labor intensive methods. Smart tags and distributed intelligence on a scale well beyond what's been done so far are similarly promising to radically improve machine intelligence. We are on the verge of self driving cars, something that only a few years ago was unthinkable as a possible practical development. Cell phones routinely contain compute power beyond that of advanced computers in years past, and seem to be accelerating their use and application. Developments in medical procedures, drugs, materials science, polymers, robotics, 3d manufacturing, genetics and cellular biology are staggering and likely accelerating. Human/machine interfaces are still making huge advances beyond typing and pointing.

Redeveloping yet another operating system or a spreadsheet program are likely dead ends and there are probably limited advances coming there, but there are no reasons to be limiting ourselves to redoing what's been done before. There's no end of advancement possible in new areas and new advances in hardware speed, capacity and software complexity will continue to open new technologies and new ways to use those new technologies.
I have read about the self driving cars and that eventually there would be less need for over the road truck drivers. Am I so insanely backwards and primitive thinking that the thought of those things on the road malfunctioning and plowing into everything on the road is wrong? Yes, I'm sure they could probably get them safer than a teen driving while texting and adjusting his song playlist at the same time, but still it bothers me. Maybe just because I do not understand the process.
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Old 09-20-2013, 10:35 PM   #12
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I have read about the self driving cars and that eventually there would be less need for over the road truck drivers. Am I so insanely backwards and primitive thinking that the thought of those things on the road malfunctioning and plowing into everything on the road is wrong? Yes, I'm sure they could probably get them safer than a teen driving while texting and adjusting his song playlist at the same time, but still it bothers me. Maybe just because I do not understand the process.
You understand the current state. When the JVM crashes and it's redundant partners crash, you better be driving. My Direct TV crashes much less often then in 1999. Oh, it still crashes.

But that's today, that will get improved. Oh yea, if I'm in a car and whatever semi's software messes up, nothing good happens. Oh yea, that will get better over time(Probably slower than Moores law). But remember, it will get better. Just like my sat dish.

IMHO

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Old 09-20-2013, 10:50 PM   #13
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Do you see a technical ceiling... ?
Not a chance. The next big thing is probably out there already, but no one knows about it.
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Old 09-21-2013, 09:23 AM   #14
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"Everything's up to date in Kansas City... They've gone about as far as they can go"...

Hey everything is it is up to date, we got a brand new buffalo skeleton at 9th and Broadway. Who else can say that.

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Old 09-21-2013, 10:43 AM   #15
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...(snip...

Do you see a technical ceiling... ?
... and... what about the need for tech employees?
We won't reach a tech ceiling because we have and will continue to go beyond needs. Productivity improvements allow us to produce lots more then we truly "need".

We really need food but maybe not the variety of it in our supermarkets and definitely people do not "need" smartphones. They may need the smartphones to keep up with the competition ... but not to survive.
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Old 09-21-2013, 11:00 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Just watched a brief interview on MSNBC, with John McAfee of McAfee antivirus. While I didn't get the whole interview, I think he was talking about a new computer paradigm...

./.

Do you see a technical ceiling... ?
... and... what about the need for tech employees?
John McAfee will join the ranks of other bright people who said things that didn't turn out quite as they imagined. Examples:


Lee De Forest, who invented the vacuum tube, said
Quote:
To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth—all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances.
Steve Ballmer of Microsoft said
Quote:
There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.
Ken Olsen, who founded DEC, said
Quote:
There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.
Tom Watson, who founded IBM, said
Quote:
I think there is a world market for maybe five computers
Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com, said
Quote:
Almost all of the many predictions now being made about 1996 hinge on the Internet's continuing exponential growth. But I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.
Bill Gates, also of Microsoft, said
Quote:
Two years from now, spam will be solved
In my most humble opinion there is no ceiling on or limit to human ingenuity.
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Old 09-21-2013, 11:23 AM   #17
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"If you make something idiot proof, someone will just make a better idiot."
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Old 09-21-2013, 01:04 PM   #18
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John McAfee will join the ranks of other bright people who said things that didn't turn out quite as they imagined. Examples:

Lee De Forest, who invented the vacuum tube, said
Steve Ballmer of Microsoft said
Ken Olsen, who founded DEC, said
Tom Watson, who founded IBM, said Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com, said Bill Gates, also of Microsoft, said
In my most humble opinion there is no ceiling on or limit to human ingenuity.
I have listened to a couple recent John McAfee interviews recently. And to paraphrase a quote from the great Thorton Mellon (Rodney Dangerfield)... "He cares...but about what I have no idea"
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Old 09-21-2013, 01:13 PM   #19
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Some of the more interesting things I think going on right now are free or very low cost online college classes, like Wharton MBA classes online -

Wharton Puts First-Year MBA Courses Online for Free - Businessweek

This may not make brick and mortar colleges obsolete, but surely the astronomical costs have to start coming down.

Today you can get an online masters degree in computer science from Georgia Tech for $6.6K. Options like this are really going to open up higher education to the masses -

Georgia Tech’s Computer Science MOOC: The super-cheap master’s degree that could change American higher education. - Slate Magazine
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Old 09-21-2013, 02:26 PM   #20
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[QUOTE
In my most humble opinion there is no ceiling on or limit to human ingenuity.
[/QUOTE]
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I agree and think if there is a correct answer, that is it.

There is plenty of innovation out in the future, most of us just don't know what it is.
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