Imagining the Power of Computers in X Years? (Part 2) — Chris Uwaje

Imagining the Power of Computers in X Years? (Part 2) — Chris Uwaje

Where is the power of digital waves from computers leading us? Meanwhile, it is not yet Uhuru that oxygen can now be produced on Mars – in a containerized form.  Now, the question is can it be advanced and accomplish its dispersal and stability in the atmosphere of Mars!

The breaking news that NASA has completed the processes to produce Oxygen on Planet Mars – is not only a moonshot achievement. It is indeed one of the most daunting and extraordinary conquests of the challenges for the survivability and future of humans on Earth and in Outer space!

The bottom line is the recognition and attestation of the tremendous emerging powers of supercomputers spurred by science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) – the birthplace of computers!

Welcome to part 2 of the conversation on the powers of computers X years from now. Under Part 1, conventional wisdom posited that with regards to computing power and digital transformation – we haven’t seen anything yet!

That truism is principally informed by the fact that it is indeed impossible for the human mind to stop thinking and innovating while still alive. What will the future hold for computers? If we assume that microprocessor manufacturers can continue to live up to Moore’s Law, the processing power of our computers should double every two years.

That would mean that computers 100 years from now would be 1,125,899,906,842,624 times more powerful than the current models. Welcome to Part 2 of Imagining the Power of Computers in X years.

Indeed today, our overriding focus should not be ‘how powerful computers will be in 10, 20, 30, 40 or X years from now’, but what the impact of computational machinery will be on human activities at corporate business, government, and private/personal levels?

Also Read: Imagining the Power of Computers in X Years?” – Part 1 By Chris Uwaje

Beyond that and more critical is perhaps, the effects it will have on children and those caught napping by the digital divide.  The expectations of middle ground can be summed up as: the good, the bad and the unimaginable! The unknown part of the equation is the proportionalities of the good, bad, and ugly.

With all certainty, the three musketeers will be competing playmates in the quest for the emerging character of digital transformation playbook of the future. The above concerns were discussed during the 50th year anniversary of the internet connection in 2019, at the Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center.

Hundreds of technology experts, including Kleinrock – one of the pioneers of internet network – were asked to vision what the Internet will be and capable of accomplishing, 50 years ahead.

During the non-scientific dialogue, the following responses were captured: ‘The outcome of the brainstorming reveals that about 72% of discussants submitted that there would be a change for the better, while 25% of the respondents submitted that there would be a change for the worse and finally, 3% believe that there would be no significant change.

Meanwhile, it is significant to emphasize that the above responses were based on a non-scientific assessment and on a non-random sampling.

Therefore, the organizers concluded that overview results are not projectable to any population sampling, other than the individual expressions as points of view and personal opinions from selected experts of the audience.

The host further concluded that ‘the optimists responding to the better-worse-no change question expressed hope that in the next 50 years digital advances will lead to longer lifespans, greater leisure, more equitable distributions of wealth and power and other possibilities to enhance human well-being.

It is however instructive to carefully interrogate the observations of most of the selected experts whose written predictions included warnings about the possibilities of greater surveillance and data-abuse practices by corporations and governments, porous security for digitally connected systems and the prospect of greater economic inequality and digital divides unless policy solutions push societies in different directions.

That observation perhaps validates the concept on the possibility and ability of the powers of future computers to compound the complexities of the risks of digital transformation – in- spite of its anticipated enormous benefits?

For example, Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and author of “Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future.

In his response on making the case that choices made now could affect whether the future turns out well or not, at that time, said: “I don’t think the right framing is ‘will the outcome be good, or bad?’ but rather it must be ‘how will we shape the outcome, which is currently indeterminate?’ I’m hopeful that we will make the right choices, but only if we realize that the good outcomes are not at all inevitable.”

David Bray, executive director for the People-Centered Internet coalition, commented and said, “There will be a series of disruptions to our current way of living and whether we, as humans, navigate them successfully for the benefit of all or, unfortunately, just a few, remains to be seen…. What we are seeing is an increasing affordability and availability of technologies that only were available to large nation-states 20 years ago. The commercial sector now outpaces the technology development of nation-states, which means groups can have advanced disruptive technologies that can be used for good or bad and that can massively impact global events.’ In his opinion, this trend will continue and will challenge the absorptive capacity of societies to keep up with such technology developments.

Then a deep-rooted sociological input followed from: Esther Dyson, entrepreneur, former journalist, founding chair at ICANN and founder of Wellville, who submitted as follows: “Do we have the collective wisdom to educate the next generation to do better despite our own poor example? The impact of the internet is not entirely inherent in the technology; it depends on what we do with it. It’s so powerful that it has given us the opportunity to satisfy many of our short-term desires instantly; we need to learn how to think longer-term. So far we have mostly done a bad job of that: Individuals are addicted to short-term pleasures such as likes and other acknowledgments (to say nothing of drugs and instantly available, online-ordered pleasures), to finding friends rather than building friendships (and marriages); businesses to boosting quarterly profits and to recruiting ‘stars’ rather than investing in their own people; nonprofits to running programs rather than building institutions; and politicians to votes and power.”

Analytics on the entire submissions suggest that humanity is currently in a state of information warfare unleashed by the magnitude of big data, information Overload, and resultant Data-Chaos.

Hence, X years from now, what we understand, know, and appreciate of the internet today will be fundamentally obsolete as new technology-Wizkids overtakes the runways of digital evolution and transformation!

Therefore, the overriding focus and message should be to sociologically design and implement future-proof digital environment for the good of our collective humanity. But is that possible? What a digital world do you/we desire?

In summary, ethical issues compel us to further interrogate the state of mind of humanity in the pursuit of technology innovation. It is therefore refreshing to close this intriguing conversation with Susan Etlinger’s submissions on: “How embedded bias can perpetuate and actually intensify injustice. This is also true in education, health care, our financial system, politics and really every system that uses data to generate predictions about the world and the future. This is not at all to say that we should retreat, but rather that we should embrace the opportunity intelligent technologies give us – to see and better understand our biases so we can optimize for the world we want, rather than a more efficient version of the world we already have. We’ve already seen this capability weaponized in the political sphere; the decisions we make now will set a precedent for whether we are able to use intelligent technologies justly and ethically, or whether in 50 years we have consigned ourselves to a permanent state of information (and literal) warfare.”  

At the speed of thought, there are so much to explore and talk about on the power and future of computers than what I have presented under Part 2 of this conversation on tales of the unexpected if Moore’s law continues to guide and govern the development of the semiconductor industry – at the mercy and control of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

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