The Future

Pundits are predicting that the first computer that will be at least as intelligent as a human will be built in 2010 and by 2049 a $1000 computer will outsmart the entire human race. But, this video is about more than that.

It tracks the shifts that are occurring today and extrapolates them into implications for those currently in high school and higher education. Think about it, if you start a technical degree this year, half of what you learn in that four-year course will be outdated before you reach the end of the third year. After all, it took radio 38 years to reach a 50 million audience, television 13 years, the internet 4 years, and Facebook achieved a market penetration that size in just 2 years.

In 1984, the year I started university, there were 1000 internet devices around the world (I certainly didn’t send an email till more than four years after that). By 1992, that number was 1,000,000. Today, there are at least a billion internet devices and that number will inevitably rise as people with at least one personal computer augment their connectivity with more and more mobile devices, such as smart phones, android phones, tablets, slates, iPads, iPods iPhones etc.

The video was produced by the zyOzy Foundation, which believes that the themes in the “Did You Know?” video are global in nature and apply to schools and children around the world.

13 thoughts on “The Future

  1. Are you really sure about the time that TV took. Most people in USA think that all inventions come from there. The first free-to-air TV service was from the BBC in 1936. There was a bit of a hiatus starting in September 1939. The computer was invented (sort of came together) to crack the German Enigma Machine, between 1940 and 1944. ‘Tis possible that things are speeding up even more that you said.

  2. @Pio A computer beating a grandmaster at chess is not quite what the concept of a technological singularity is about. As to freewill and god. There is evidence that what we think of as freewill is merely an afterthought in terms of the electrical signals and that our brain’s decide for us nanoseconds before our consciousness becomes aware of many decisions, so I’m not sure how that notion of love being returned freely works.

    @Iain The Gascoigne quote is literally, obviously, basically a classic for the Colemanballs archives.

  3. In many aspects the computer has already outdistanced humans. It can even beat a world grandmaster in the game of chess.
    But can emotion be programmed into it? More scary is can it have free will and be ambitious and greedy? Barring Asimov’s laws of robotic, that would mean the end of the hman civilization.
    But I don’t think that free will would ever be duplicated by us in our inventions. I think that free will is an inimitable creation of God alone – to ensure that His love is truly responded in return.

  4. You’re right John, nothing new under the sun, eh? I think the futurologists and those predicting a technological singularity are anticipating that Moore’s Law is going to take us to a point some time soon when the sophistication of computers will hit a tipping point after which they will be able to design/evolve new machines that then become exponentially more powerful much more rapidly than we have seen over the last few decades since quarks and chips were invented. They could be wrong.

  5. I submit that this is not a new phenomena, and that it likely commenced during WWII. When I started a university education in 1966 in mathematics and physics, quarks and gluons, for example, were merely ideas written on pieces of paper. By the time I finished in 1970, physics then constituted could not exist without accounting for quarks and gluons. This, and many other then occurring discoveries meant that my physics education was obsolete. I took a job working with computers that were not even dreamed of in 1966 and working with Queue Theory, learning that much transpired during my education years of which I had little or no knowledge.

    Given that, I seriously doubt that a computer as intelligent as a human will be built any time soon. The human brain appears to be capable of simultaneous parallel processing and serial processing in a manner that we have not begun to understand. And human intelligence draws on functions that are not yet understood. We are still trying to design computers that can mimic the lowly eons old cockroach — still trying, mind us all.

  6. David, of course “Truth” becomes outdated. At one time in human history the truth had it that the Earth was at the centre of the universe and gods marched across the night skies. More subtly Newton’s truth about gravitation is known to be false within the truth that is Einstein’s relational universe. No doubt, there will be a paradigm shift again at some point in the future that demonstrates that Einstein’s truth is false too. There are degrees of truth.

  7. Since when does truth ever become outdated? It’s only fallacy that needs to be corrected.

    Technological innovations provide more precise means to investigate physical phenomena. Beyond that, we already know how to prevent most chronic diseases although, because of wrongheaded dietary advice from our government, most people consume too much of the foods that do not furnish proper nourishment.

    In the future, access to powerful genetic analysis tools will likely help health experts determine what sort of diet one ought to consume to promote sound health and , in some cases prevent a genetic disorder from expressing itself. Alcoholism comes to mind.

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