Friday, May 04, 2007

Computing challenges of the future

Since the first computer we've come quite a long way in integrating the computer into our daily lives. This has made significant changes to the formation of our society, in the context of expectations, beliefs and ethics.

There will be a time though that all processes (activities) that we perform are already automated and then we'll have a number of companies competing on the same level. Consider an application. It performs a certain kind of activity for the user. We have applications that work on private data at home (photo editing, accounting, office work like writing a letter, and so forth). At the moment we see these activities becoming more "online", so that we can do this from any place and not just from home.

The majority of applications has "options" and functionalities available that the user can choose from. By using these options and functionalities, we come close to executing that particular activity that we really wanted to do. There are new activities that can be invented that were otherwise not possible, but in general it is a replication of another activity in a different context that is transferred to another context for another need. (like sending a letter not just by writing a card at home and then posting it, but sending it from your PC and now sending it from your phone, also called email). Different contexts, but essentially the same thing. Our society however changes its perceptions just by using that technology and more importantly, changes its expectations and constant needs. (people become dependent on the technology).

There will be a time though that many of these services or functionalities are already automated and that "aggregated value" by itself can not be provided by just automating such activity. It needs something else.

I guess that one of the challenges of the future is that the computers need to be more helpful in their assistance to making decisions or assistance in detection. This probably means a lot of data-warehousing and processing and analysis and then use the outcomes of this whole process. It goes way beyond any kind of simple algorithm in this case. We need to mathematically understand better how the world fits together.

So the future of IT seems more geared towards "optimization" and "efficiency" than just "automatization" the way it's still enjoying things. After we have automated the majority of tasks and all these companies offer their products, the next step is optimization of these tasks. To be able to better understand activities, you must understand more about that activity domain. Or rather, linking back to my previous post... a computer engineer will not be able to compete on higher levels any longer just by having knowledge about computing or engineering. You'll have to invest in gaining knowledge of other problem domains and then apply the knowledge of one domain to the other, cross-over.

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