"If you miss the sunrise I made for you today, never
mind. I will make you another one tomorrow."
Apparently, the Church of Singapore created an ad campaign to
encourage people to visit church. This is a line from that campaign. Or this
could be an Internet hoax. (http://www.charityfocus.org/insp/expr/god)
Either way, the lines are an elegant reminder of a simple
fact–a fact that an industry living on a quarterly basis tends to lose sight
of. It starts believing that the only truth is today’s truth. And in trying to
overcome that, the tomorrow is often lost. Well, there’s good news for the
information technology industry. The today is better then yesterday. After The
Year of Survival, there’s a revival happening. There’s an exciting tomorrow
as well–based on mature silicon technologies and their fusion with wireless
technologies. And the day after is just about gaining shape, based on as yet
The tomorrow is based on connectivity and mobility. Metcalfe’s Law states
that the power of a network increases in exponential proportion to the number of
computers connected to it. There’s no way to verify the law, but it has an
instinctive ring of truth to it. The Internet-enabled multiplying computer
connectivity is creating a computing powerhouse. This power will be unleashed in
the next decade or so. The data knowledge that lies unused on this gigantic
network is waiting to be harnessed. The business and commercial possibilities
that this network can open up are today at the idea stage. The sheer computing
power of this network–that lies unused 75% of the time–is a power bank that
will be tapped soon. Add to this connectivity, the mobility that wireless
systems are bringing in and visualize the potential for change. If connectivity
adds power exponentially, mobility adds the power greater than a square of this.
Clearly, the best of IT–in terms of the quality of
applications and their spread across societies is yet to come.
The Day After
If this best is not enough, there’re as yet nascent technologies joining
the party. There are three technologies developing in parallel. Individually,
each one is far-reaching. Together, these will lead to quantum leaps. The fusion
of information technology, biotechnology and nano-technology will lead to a
scorching pace of change. These will see accelerated development over the next
two decades and help create applications that border on the impossible today.
Biotechnology will make it possible to code the 3.2 billion chemical cells that
make up a human being. Once that is done, who knows the applications that will
emerge. Anti-aging chemicals, gene therapy that makes bad genes go away, speech
and gesture simulation, cancer-eating machines, DNA-based human computers, real
intelligence devices, neural networks, bio-based environment-friendly energy
sources, molecular computers which are embedded in the human body at birth…
The list is endless and fascinating, perhaps even frightening. But it’s all
happening. Ideas and technologies happen first. Products come much later. For
these technologies, the first stage is being crossed. And just like the
information technology age which started 50 years back and is now in the
fruit-bearing age, these developments will bear fruit a few years down the line.
To imagine this stuff is easy. To forecast it is impossible.
But if the ultimate device that mankind wants to replicate is the human body, we’re
still years away from understanding it. And many more before we replicate it.
The process of getting there will spawn huge industries and change irrevocably
the nature of present industries.
In the context of this exciting future, the troubles of the
last couple of years are air pockets in an otherwise calm flight.
The author is Editor-in-Chief of CyberMedia, the publishers of Dataquest. He can
be reached at