Finding a balance between then and now.
I was stuck in the airport with delay after delay and bored out of my mind, I was desperate for anything to do. The news stand was closed, and I had already finished the book I brought, so I started looking through the features of my shiny new phone. To my thrill, I found a game preinstalled and ready to go! I spend the next three hours playing the game Snake on my Nokia 8210’s black and white 1.3-inch 96×96 pixel display. You remember that game, don’t you? In the year 2000, there weren’t many other phone games available. Of course, that has changed today. Few would have predicted a mobile gaming market twenty years later of over $150 billion!
20 years ago...
In 1999, the same year my snazzy Nokia was released, 150 million people around the world used the Internet (long live dial-up). Today, that number is closer to 4 billion! Many of the technologies and innovations we use every day didn’t exist in 1999. Wikipedia hadn’t quite launched yet, Facebook and twitter weren’t a thing, and digital music barely existed (that changed a few years later when the Apple iPod launched). The tech world was definitely beginning to shape up that year, though. Bluetooth was invented, Amazon bought a research company called Alexa.com (now you know where she got her name), the first USB flash drives shipped, VMware released their first product, and Matrix the sci-fi movie was released (more on that later). Everyone knew that we were in for a wild ride, and what a ride it has been.
Where we are today
There is no doubt today’s computers are more powerful than ever. Moore’s law is a prediction made in 1965 that computer power will accelerate, doubling every two years. In the past twenty years, that prediction remained true year after year. Because of that, the average smartphone today has about 3 billion transistors, compared to the 10 million in the most powerful processor in 1999. Compared to those $4,000 computers of 1999, you have 300 times more computing power, running on a battery that lasts a couple of days and the whole thing fits in your pocket – even though I still sometimes miss playing snake on a 96×96 pixel screen.
Now, instead of Bluetooth being a novelty, it is standard on almost every device made – over 4 billion such devices will ship this year alone.
What is coming?
If Moore’s law holds, your pocket computer 20 years from now will be 1,000 times faster than today, cost about as much as a pack of gum, and never need recharged. In other words, computer technology will be so cheap and small it will literally be sewn into everything around us. Your clothing will be full of sensors, your shoes will adapt to surface conditions. Your car will drive for you and have more computing power than today’s Space-X Falcon rocket that cost $60 Million. By 2039, most futurists agree that robotic servants will be a common household item, solar power will become mainstream, and the global population will be double what it is today. By then, physicians predict that medical advances will have eliminated deaths from heart attack and cancer, along with scores of other health problems.
Remember the Matrix sci-fi movie that came out in 1999? Scientists have now developed direct computer interfaces to the optical nerve and the auditory nerve, and developments such as “Deep Fake” and “Digital Person” technology threaten to blur the line between what is real and what is simulated, just like in the Matrix. Technology that just twenty years ago seemed like wild fantasy will soon be a normal part of our daily life.
Prepare for the Future
In a real sense, the future is now! More than ever before, the technology that is available is beyond the comprehension of any one person. Daily advancements make it possible for us to all use technology in ways that we could only imagine a short time ago. Take advantage of this amazing new world, but don’t lose yourself in the process. Technology can transform your life in ways that enrich you deeply or provide an endless stream of meaningless distraction. It has always been up to you to decide how to use this technology in your life.
Stop waiting for the future to bring wild benefits, because that day has come. Every day, technology teaches us more about human health – but you have to use that knowledge to gain benefit. Today, everyone can use web publishing technology, social media, online learning, virtual tourism, free college-level content, but it takes effort. For those who embrace modern technology, and balance it with an appreciation of the ancient world, there has never been a better time to be alive.
Leaders in business around the world need to make sure the benefits of technology are available to citizen by championing high speed broadband, technology share programs, and STEM education. Many such efforts are under way to continue to connect people and leaders with resources that allow amazing digital transformation.
The past twenty years have been astonishing. In the future, expect Moore’s law to continue amazing us, and expect platforms to continue to their efforts to provide connections and resources for businesses.
Bobby Simpson is the creator of GhostSentry, an access control and compliance system and CIO for Finley & Cook, PLLC, a private accounting firm where he has served for 12 years. Bob is passionate about spreading the knowledge and skills necessary to face today’s security challenges. Mr. Simpson has spoken at DEF CON Wall of Sheep, BSides, the Oklahoma Cyber Terrorism Summit, the Information Warfare Summit, and at dozens of regional events. He has a background in large complex infrastructure such as telecom service providers but has dedicated the past 15 years to information security. Mr. Simpson holds several security certifications including CISSP, GCIH, GCIA, and GPEN.