In the future, will computers be faster or slower?

by @edent | # | Read ~228 times.

Here's a great set of questions to ask at your next corporate strategy away day.
I know you know the answers to these questions - but I promise that the people in charge of your organisation will have some illuminating answers.

Thinking about the next five years...

  • will computers be faster or slower?
  • will the price of computing go up or down?
  • will internet speeds get faster or slower?
  • will computer graphics get more realistic or less?

I promise you these aren't daft questions. Ask people these questions, and then ask them to justify their answers. Then ask how that affects their business planning and purchasing decisions.


Obviously, computers are continually getting faster - yet they're often perceived as slower.

Sure, the price per computation is falling, but a top of the range iPhone will cost you over a thousand pounds. The original cost a third of that (adjusted for inflation).

5G is fast but web pages are getting exponentially larger. And anyone who has been at a crowded train station knows that shared bandwidth dries up pretty quickly

In 1997, the video-game "Carmageddon" was banned all over the world for its realistic depictions of people being hit by cars.

A tiny pixelated person runs away from a crude model of a car.

And, who can forget the original Mortal Kombat being the subject of Moral Paniks?

Harder questions

Now, consider these set of questions. In the next five years...

  • do you expect to have more passwords or fewer?
  • will you own more computers or fewer?
  • will computers be easier to use or harder?

Spotting trends

I've consolidated lots of passwords behind OAuth. But unless IndieAuth takes off in a meaningful way, I suspect I'll have more passwords. I have a Yubikey, but it seems like every week brings me a new 2FA soft-token I have to register and keep safe.

My house is filling up with computers. Every speaker, doorbell, and lightbulb has a CPU. But, increasingly, I only rent those computers - some virtually, some physically.

As I get older, I lose neuroplasticity. I get grumpy when a new version of Material Design comes out and means I have to learn how to use my computer all over again. Voice interfaces only work if you remember the precise wording of a command. As many people perceive it, computers are harder to use than ever.

In the news

The reason I ask these questions is due to a recent news story I read. A firm was locked in to a crappy multi-year contract with a technology supplier. In their defence, they said:

When we entered into an agreement with [redacted] we could not have foreseen the progress in technology around mobile data and streaming.

That, frankly, is incompetence. If you're buying a decade-long service, you have to take into account how technology advances over the years. I can forgive someone for not predicting the next Netflix, or the ubiquity of tablet computers. But it's impossible to justify long technology contracts which expect the world to stay static.

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