What does the future hold as technology moves at a rapid pace?

Almost 30 years ago I witnessed the first round of “disposable technology” where people were getting rid of old computers like they were disposable plates. You have to remember that at the time, there was no clear winner in the home computer wars and the machines were very expensive compared to today. In fact, most people didn’t even have a computer in their home yet. They definitely were not walking around with high-powered computers (also known as smartphones) in their pockets as we do today. It was definitely a different world.

You might have heard of something called “Moore’s Law”. It is more of an observation than an actual law, but Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore said that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit would double approximately every two years. From 1975 until around 2012, this has been pretty accurate as computers that use these integrated circuits have gotten faster and better. Intel has confirmed (http://bit.ly/1Nx7yBk) that in 2015 this law has actually slowed a little. Now it is more accurate to say the time period is around two and a half years. Still, that’s pretty amazing stuff. How long can this last?

It is interesting to note that Moore’s Law is actually somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy, being used as a goal for the industry to achieve. It is hard to say.

Of course, there have been many major inventions along the way to help sustain the law. These include (but are not limited to) things like dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and the deep UV excimer laser photolithography process. This technology stuff sounds more like a strange medical procedure than something that makes our computers faster.

What I have observed over the years is how technology relates to people. Technology tends to have three tiers to it. The younger generation tends to take technology for granted, having had it since they were born. They are not afraid to try new things and are shaping the future of what it all means and how it all works. The middle generation appreciates technology, but often remains skeptical of its long-term impact. It’s also the generation that is embracing technology (fears aside) and fuelling its growth economically. Finally, the older generation fears it and is somewhat afraid to ‘mess things up,’ although newer and easier technology is making that better. Those resistant to change try to hang on to their old ways, which creates a subset of technology designed to work or look like older tech.

So what does the future hold?

3D printing becomes mainstream, as our version of the replicator from Star Trek. Self-driving vehicles start to dominate the landscape and the idea of a “computer” becomes more obscure as computers are now built-in to almost everything we use and interact with. The desktop computer becomes less of a requirement and the general expansion of microprocessors gets bigger, likely outnumbering people by 50 to 1. Medical advances continue to be perhaps the most positive outcome from the technology revolution and incredibly powerful weapons perhaps the most negative.

Of course, this could all just be science fiction. However, it has been proven time and time again that what is often science fiction becomes science fact. If self-fulfilling prophecies are what are guiding us as a society, then we are truly in control of our own destinies.

Moore’s Law was stated, and it became so. Star Trek’s writers thought it up, and it became so.

So, what do you say? What are you going to say today that will become tomorrow’s reality?


The Personal Computer Museum is celebrating its 10th year anniversary today at 13 Alma St. in Brantford from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Explore the history of technology, including computers, video games and so much more from 1976 and up. Admission is free and the main floor is wheelchair accessible. For more information visit http://www.pcmuseum.ca.

Syd Bolton is the curator of the Personal Computer Museum (http://www.pcmuseum.ca) and the Manager of Information Technology at ACIC / Methapharm. You can reach him via email at sbolton@bfree.on.ca or on Twitter@sydbolton

Read at: http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/2015/09/18/what-does-the-future-hold-as-technology-moves-at-a-rapid-pace

By Syd Bolton