The Future

Anyone who claims to be able to predict the future in any great detail more than a few years out is likely deluded. However though the accelerating, dynamic, technological change several trends seem clear:
  1. Services and solutions will come from the network.

  2. Such services will become generalized commodities, freely interoperable and interchangeable.

  3. Proprietary hardware and closed systems will accordingly have diminishing influence on the way most people get things done.

  4. As a corollary to the above, networked services will be available through increasingly lighter hardware working in collaboration with other network resources. It will be possible to incrementally and reliably increase the power of your database engine for example by adding a cheap generic computer running the appropriate software, that software loaded automatically (on demand?) from the network of course.

  5. Small specialized machines may gain popularity on the client side, but on the server side, I expect networked generic platforms with strongly interoperable personality software will dominate.

  6. The converse is also possible, that somewhat specialized small machines may work together to solve larger problems in their spare time. This approach has already been validated by the RC5 cracking effort and by AMD in simulating their latest microprocessors.

    To pick an epicurean example, your already microprocessor-equipped toaster may help crack large prime numbers or predict the weather (between toasting slices of bread :-). It could even be connected to the Internet though the AC power wall outlet. Power companies already figure IPv6 has enough addresses that every light bulb on earth could be connected to the Internet....

  7. If services are networked and solutions can be distributed then even the concept of a server may go away as the tasks they now perform are transparently spread over the net.
    One may simply ask the network (from one's pager-sized communicator or wristwatch) to perform a task and have it completed through user-intangible collaboration of resources somewhere on the net.
    A related possibility is that smarter file servers speaking in a language of networked data may be the only distinct back end hardware in the future.

  8. Competition for open services and creativity in meeting needs will thrive to the extent that openness is recognized and embraced.

  9. Services and products which work with the openness of the Internet, instead of trying to force it into closed, proprietary systems, will thrive and prosper. Existing examples include: eBay, Eudora, Hotmail, Netscape, Yahoo,, Red Hat Linux, and many others.

  10. Support for such services, perhaps more than the services themselves, could become the dominant economy of the information age. While open solutions are becoming easier to use, there will always be a need for skilled folks who can maintain and develop them or act as human help resources and consultants for their users.