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TECH TALK: Letter to a 2005 Baby: 10 Big Ideas

June 20th, 2005 · No Comments

Dear Abhishek,

I have compiled my own list of 10 Big Ideas for you. Think of this as my 2005 list. Hopefully, I can keep preparing a list every few years with my views possibly mirroring not just my evolving thinking but also the changing world.

1. Teleputers, Ubiquitous Networks and Utility Computing

It was only recently that I came to realise the full power and potential of the mobile phone. Even though I had been reading (and blogging) about it for some time, I still used an ancient (3-year-old) cellphone. It was only when I switched to using some of the newer mobile phones (Nokia 6600 and 6630) with GPRS connectivity that I began to better understand what the mobile phone is capable of. It has moved way beyond voice communications and text messaging. When you were born, I took your photo with the Nokia 6630, emailed it to Flickr and within minutes, it was there for anyone to see.

Mobile phones have their limitations small screen, difficult (for me) data entry on the small keypad, and (still) slow network connectivity. The first two I dont see changing, though voice is likely to become a mechanism to navigate the phone features. As you grow up, network connectivity will keep improving by leaps and bounds.

In the midst of this, do not ignore the computer. In countries like India, I think it will be the thin clients with their big screens and keyboards which will complement the mobile phone and get past the latters limitations. George Gilders teleputer will thus not be one physical device but two the mobile and the computer coming together to make a single logical device.

Combine this with the presence of data networks everywhere both wired and wireless. Even though today, it is well nigh impossible for me to get more than 40-50 Kbps Internet connectivity at home via the cable connection, even before you learn to talk, this will change. Affordable high-speed broadband will be available over both cable and DSL lines. And then there are the 3G and WiMax networks. By the time you start kindergarten, we will have an envelope of ubiquitous broadband connectivity. That is the world you will grow up in.

What all of this means is that you will have teleputer-like access devices always connected to networks and therefore to servers which will store the content and software you need. The teleputers you use will be two-way devices giving you the capability to record everything in your life and store it (though for now, I cannot imagine what you will do with it). Combined with sensors and RFID chips, it will make possible what Ramesh Jain has called as the EventWeb very different from the DocumentWeb that we see around us. It is a world where experience will be the centerpiece of what you see and do.

All the technology work of the past quarter century or so is now coming together to make an amazing technology platform for you. This mix of teleputers, ubiquitous networks, service-based utility computing will create a universe around you which is so different that it is hard for me to dream about. And all of this will happen just in the next five or so years.

Tomorrow: 10 Big Ideas (continued)


TECH TALK Letter to a 2005 Baby+T

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