General Trends

At a recent symposium, Bill Joy, the Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystems, presented his vision of the future of computer technology: “The fact that by 2030 we're going to be able to build machines that are a million times as powerful as the personal computers of today, and as we combine that computing ability with the ability to manipulate things in the physical and biological sciences, and understanding what we're manipulating and being able to simulate it, we open up the opportunity for ourselves to completely redesign the world for better or for worse. So it's no surprise that we can have these unbelievable curves and dreams of doing certain things, because we can imagine using this technology to do just about anything. The replicating and evolving processes that have been confined to the natural world are about to become…realms of human endeavor.”

This vision points out some of the main themes associated with progress in the recent years: the skyrocketing complexity of technology, the increasing human reliance on this technology to improve the quality of life, and the resulting pervasiveness of new technologies. Computer networks have demonstrated how quickly a new technology can become ubiquitous. Artificial intelligence research is not yet sufficiently advanced to affect most of the population, but its current progress hints at the future of technology.