Software // Information Management
Commentary
6/25/2007
07:30 AM
Neil Raden
Neil Raden
Commentary
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How Scary Is the Future?

We're told that China has more honor students than the US has students, has the largest English-speaking population in the world, that Nintendo spends more money on basic research each year than the US spends on research into education and that a college freshman studying a technical topic will be learning things that are obsolete before he/she graduates...

Some of you may have already seen a presentation floating around with a lot of WOW statistics about China and India and technology. If not, you can view it here: http://www.glumbert.com/media/shift We're told that China has more honor students than the US has students, has the largest English-speaking population in the world, that Nintendo spends more money on basic research each year than the US spends on research into education and that a college freshman studying a technical topic will be learning things that are obsolete before he/she graduates.I remember in the '80's that IBM was going to be the only computer maker in the world and that the Japanese economy would eclipse the US and bury the US in debt and unemployment. OK, they were right about the debt. It gets even spookier when they get into technology. 106 million users of MySpace would be the 11th largest country in the world. The average MySpace page is viewed 30 times a day, for a total of 3 billion views a day. That's about the same as the number of Google queries a day. Where did we go for that information before? Or did we? How about 1.5 exabytes of new information generation this year, or fiber optics that can transmit 10 trillion bits per second, and tripling every 6 months? The projection from all of this is that by 2013, a supercomputer will be built that can equal the human brain, by 2023 a computer that will cost $1,000 will have greater capacity than the human brain and, finally, by 2049, a $1,000 computer will have greater capacity than the entire human race. I wonder if these amazing machines will also use only 10 percent of their capacity. I don't believe it. According to these kinds of predictions twenty years ago, we were supposed to robots now. Where is my robot? Malthus predicted that the human race would be extinct by now because we would run out of food. We're still here. In terms of technology, yes, our lives are quite different from a generation ago, but in the larger sense, we use technology to enhance our existing way of life, not to turn it on its head. Look at cars. I loved cars in the 60's and the 70's, but I wouldn't drive one now, they're unsafe and unreliable. Sure, I use the DVR, but I don't watch more television than I used to. We can take a lot of the cost of BI out with automating data integration, abstracting and federating access, making things go faster, but we still are analyzing and predicting and evaluating the business. If you step back one level of abstraction, we're still doing the same things we were doing thirty years ago, just differently and, hopefully, more effectively. So I'm not afraid that my grandkids are going to become slaves to thinking machines. Are you? I'd like your thoughts. Neil Raden is the founder of Hired Brains, providers of consulting, research and analysis in Business Intelligence, Performance Management, real-time analytics and information/semantic integration. Neil is co-author of the just-released book "Smart Enough Systems," with business rules expert James Taylor.We're told that China has more honor students than the US has students, has the largest English-speaking population in the world, that Nintendo spends more money on basic research each year than the US spends on research into education and that a college freshman studying a technical topic will be learning things that are obsolete before he/she graduates...

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