I stumbled across an article today: 13 predictions from PC Magazine that are “guaranteed to change the world between now and 2020.” Some are factually incorrect and others appear to be designed simply to make you shop for unnecessary gadgets.
So here they are, followed by corrections. I wish I could post more predictions about the future but I’d probably get sued by the people funding me (I did sign an NDA after all), so this will have to do for now…
1> The Real Quad-Core.
AMD releases the first single-chip quad-core CPU. Code-named Barcelona, it promises 20 to 50 percent better performance than the competing multichip design from you-know-who.
This is akin to saying the future of food is a 45 horsepower Cuisinart. Talk to me about food(software) not high tech utensils. I do pretty nasty data crunching for my project, tens of millions of calculations at a time, and while a top shelf CPU would be nice, it would be a luxury not a necessity for me as someone who actually pushes equipment.
2> Hello, OLED
Sony introduces the first OLED (organic light-emitting diode) television. It’s too small and too expensive for mass consumption, but early adopters love its 3mm profile and 1,000,000-to-1 contrast ratio.
Because my Plasma TV is worthless at 4cm thick. But this is going to “change the world” apparently.
3> Like Wi-Fi—but Everywhere
Carriers launch the first WiMAX services in the U.S., giving major metro areas wireless access that rivals the speeds of Wi-Fi. The difference? No more hot spots. It’s everywhere you go.
No complaints on this one. WiMAX could be a huge improvement over EVDO, etc.
4> Eight-Core and More
Intel unveils an eight-core processor and completely revamps its Core architecture, moving the memory controller and graphics circuitry from distinct chipsets onto the CPU itself.
See point one. The only benefit I see is that manufacturing costs would drop for these systems on a chip. Which would be great for the developing world.
5> So Long, Laser Printer
The first Memjet ink-based printers hit the market, delivering 60 pages per minute at a reasonable cost per page. The trick: multiple print heads that span the entire width of the paper you’re printing on.
My funky $150 Laserjet has never needed a toner refill and does 20 ppm. But I guess your average consumer is going to need an 8 core CPU and the ability to print 3600 pages per hour in the near future for some reason.
6> The High-Def DVR
Seagate releases a 3.5-inch hard drive that stores 3 terabytes of data. That’s 3,000 gigabytes. We’re talking about a digital video recorder that records nothing but high-def video.
OK, this one really has me baffled. I have a high def DVR in my living room right now with more than enough storage – a full 3 years before they predict this innovation will launch. So I’ll be able to record 89,000 hours of HD video, who cares?
7> Can You Say 4G?
Fourth-generation cellular networks debut in the United States. The LTE (Long Term Evolution) standard doubles the throughput of 3G networks, offering 3 to 4 Mbps to real-world users.
If we’re all using the technology they mention in prediction three (VOIP+WiMAX) then there would be no need for any more legacy technology. Give me an open source phone like the Neo/OpenMoko and Skype. Cell networks are the horse drawn carriages of the digital age.
Here’s a prediction. With T-Mobile I get free minutes when my cell phone connects to my wifi hotspot instead of their cell towers. Someone will reverse engineer this tech and program an open source phone to use a mobile broadband network (EVDO/WiMAX, etc) to get free minutes all the time for the cost of a basic data plan. After that, asterisk will come standard as part of the open source phone stack and phone numbers will succumb to services like Skype-In followed by IPV6 static IPs for all mobile hand-held devices.
8> Chips Go Optical
IBM perfects a chip for mainframes and other high-end machines that uses optical connections instead of copper. Moving photons instead of electrons improves data transfer speeds eightfold.
Unless you’re simulating a mouse brain in real time why on earth would your average consumer need this much power. Show me a killer app or we’ll be hunting rabbits with bazookas. Servers are turning into commodity items but I suppose this would be useful outside of the consumer space.
9> A Cure for Jersey Drivers
The first cars equipped with Motorola’s MotoDrive technology roll off the assembly line. Able to calculate their speed and position relative to other vehicles, these cars can automatically avoid accidents.
One out of 34 million will malfunction leading to a lawsuit and this will never see the light of day again. This is similar to the air travel business, even though computers don’t get drunk or tired people would prefer to have a human at the helm.
10> HDTV Is Obsolete
Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV) debuts with a resolution of 7,680-by-4,320 and 22 speakers of surround sound, dwarfing today’s HDTVs, which top out at 1,920-by-1,080.
Yes, because everybody will have HDTVs at this point and manufacturers will need to push a new round of gadgets. The problem is most people can’t tell the difference between 1080p and 720p as it stands now. The only way people might see a big difference is by installing wall sized TVs. And 22 speakers? Manufacturers already tried getting everybody to upgrade their stuff by introducing 7.1 speaker standards, and they were laughed at by people who know that 5.1 is sufficient for the majority of home theaters.
11> Power Off, Memory On
Manufacturers use carbon nanotubes to offer NRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory). Unlike today’s SDRAM and flash memory technologies, it can hold information even when you lose power.
This one is simply factually incorrect. Flash memory is the stuff in your digital camera. Your photos don’t vanish when you turn off your camera. This is just sloppy writing. Flash is getting more reliable and faster. The big story in storage is the emergence of solid state drives TODAY. Read my article “The State of Solid State” for more info.
12> Wash ‘N’ Wear iPods
Flexible, washable OLED screens hit the market. That means laptops that roll up like place mats—not to mention smartphone and music-player displays built right into your clothing.
If I hear one more prediction about wearable computing I’m going to chug this jug of Tide sitting next to me until I feel clean again. Pockets. Pockets were probably invented centuries ago by some smart guy who was tired of carrying a man bag. I don’t want to go to the tailor if I need to change the batteries on my GPS device. I will never wear iShorts, High-Def Haggars, or WiMAX mittens, even if Steve Jobs says they’re revolutionary.
That was cathartic, thanks for your time.
Image is called I’ve seen the future by BWR