A Less Obvious Way in Which Technology is Disrupting Economics.
July 31, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee and Leonard Kleinrock see 2014 from back in 2000.
April 21, 2014
I was recently cleaning up in the garage and came across an old textbook on Computer Networks. It was a book written in the late-90s and covered all the basics of application, transport and network layers, HTTP, SMTP, TCP/IP, network security, etc – all the usual suspects that were well in place by then and that are still the backbone of computer networks now. In addition to the actual subject matter content, the book had, as side notes, interviews with some of the “founding fathers” of the computer networks field, including Tim Berners-Lee and Leonard Kleinrock.
For those who might not know, Leonard Kleinrock is the guy who, arguably, invented the Internet – his computer was thefirst node of the ARPANet, a worldwide network of university computers, which over the years morphed into what is now known as the Internet. And Tim Berners-Lee is the guy who, arguably, invented one of the main applications that runs on the Internet – the World Wide Web – more specifically the HTTP protocol.
Each of the interviews ended with a question: “How do you envisage the future of computer networking?”
Here is Kleinrock’s answer:
"The clearest path of my vision is that of nomadic computing and smart spaces. … Nomadic computing refers to the technology that enables end users who travel from place to place to gain access to Internet services in a transparent fashion, no matter where they travel. However, nomadic computing is only one step. The next step will enable us to move out of the netherworld of cyberspace to the physical world of smart spaces. Our environments (desks, walls vehicles, watches, belts, and so on) will come alive with technology, through actuators, sensors, logic, processing, storage, cameras, microphones, speakers, displays and communication. This embedded technology will allow our environment to provide theIP services we want. When I walk into a room, the room will know I neutered. I will be able to communicate with my environment naturally, as in spoken English; my requests will generate replies that present Web pages to me from wall displays, my eyeglasses, as speech, holograms, and so forth. The Internet will essentially be a pervasive global nervous system."
And here is the answer by Berners-Lee:
"I hope that the Web will become, for people, a much more creative space in which everyone will be able to create and edit hypertext as an intuitive form of expression and collaborative activity. I also hope that machines will be able to trade data in ways which allow them to link the meaning of different databases to form a Semantic Web."
This is in the late nineties, when we were still smoking in restaurants, listening to cassette tapes, and using bulky desk PCs with slow modems. There were almost no mobile phones, let alone things like Skype, YouTube and Wikipedia. The Internet had already arrived but was clumsy and primitive and seen by most as a mere curious utility that allows one to check out their favorite band’s homepage. Those who were educated and informed enough to see past the immediate limitations on the mid nineties Internet, were too quickly dazed by infinite possibilities and lost in bizarre fantasies, not able to make any real sense of them. And yet these two interviewees get it just right. They saw the infinite maybes of the future and succinctly distilled these into a handful of bullet points:
Internet of things
Web 2.0 and Social Networks
And now, 14 years down the track, in 2014, it is exactly what is happening.
On these last three points – Big Data, Cloud and Internet of Things – here are three podcasts by McKinsey & Co that cover the topics very well. These aren’t technical in content, the focus is more on the wider picture socio economic / futurist in their content, so should be very interesting to both technically and business minded: