I fear the Internet is doomed to fail, to be replaced by tightly controlled gardens of exclusivity. The Internet has extended beyond the capabilities of its origins: the trusting, open interactions among a few research universities. Today it is too easy for unknown entities to penetrate into private homes and businesses, stealing identities and corporate secrets. Fear of damaging programs and the ever-increasing amount of spam (some just annoying but more and more deadly and malicious), threatens the infrastructure. And so, just as previous corporate warlords used the existence of real inefficiencies and deficiencies in other media to gain control, equipment, service and content providers, large corporations will try to use the deficiencies of the Internet to exert control and exclusivity. All the better, they will claim, to provide safe, secure and harmonious operation, while incidentally enhancing profits and reducing competition. Similar arguments will apply to governments as well, invoking the fears of the existing Internet in order to exert control for the benefit of the existing ruling parties.
I have seen the future, and if it turns out the way it is headed, I am opposed. I fear our free and continual access to information and services is doomed to be replaced by tightly controlled gardens of exclusivity. It is time to rethink the present, for it determines the future.
The article below is a couple months old but interesting to look back on now the iPad has sold close to 4 million units, supporting Job's point of view.
Ballmer commented yesterday that Apple's sold more iPads than he would like. He was surprised by the iPhone, and is surprised by the iPad. After all, Microsoft was already selling phones, and tablets, and if so many people wanted them, they'd have bought them ... right?
You see the problem in Ballmer's iPad interview below. He thinks everything is a PC, just evolving form factors. The hardware shape changes like a fashion fad, but it's still a PC, and people are going to do the same things on it.
On the contrary, it's not the hardware form factor people are excited about. Joe Wilcox didn't repurchase an iPad because it was fashionable. It's the shape of the software — the usability. The iOS multi-touch platform pushes the OS into the background, putting goal-oriented apps front and center.
Everyday people (tech geeks call these people "normals") can poke a button for the thing they want to do, and the device becomes a tool to accomplish that thing. Your goal, in a sleek metal frame.
It's not a personal computer riddled with OS anxiety between you and your goal. Turn it on and it's a personal radio, Facebook, magazine, navigator, or photo album. It's whatever you need it to be at the time, and nothing else.
Steve Jobs' and Steve Ballmer's starkly different visions of the future
"PCs are like trucks," Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs told Walt Mossberg Tuesday night at the Wall Street Journal's D8 conference. When America stopped being an agrarian society, people started buying cars. Devices like the iPhone and the iPad, in Jobs' analogy, are the cars of computing as society transitions into what he calls the "post PC world.""And this transformation is going to make some people uneasy," he predicted. "People from the PC world."
Enter Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft (MSFT), who was, in his D8 turn two days later, the embodiment of the uneasy PC guy, whether attacking Google's (GOOG) "incoherent" operating system strategy, damning Research in Motion (RIMM) with faint praise, or dissing Apple as living in "the bubble of Terranea" -- a reference to the swanky resort where the conference was held and whose participants could afford to own "five devices per person."
All Things D has posted excerpts of Ballmer's interview (along with Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect) on its D8 site. We've pasted several below the fold, along with the Steve Jobs video that includes his vision of the post-PC world. It begins at the 3:30 mark in the first clip. Ballmer's response is in the video about the iPad.
Steve Jobs on the iPad and the post-PC world:
Steve Ballmer on the iPad:
Ballmer and Ozzie on cloud computing:
Ballmer on the battle for control of the mobile phone business:
I made 108 predictions in The Age of Spiritual Machines (TASM), which, incidentally, I wrote in 1996 to 1997. It takes a year to publish, so the book came out at the end of 1998...
To summarize, of these 108 predictions, 89 were entirely correct by the end of 2009. An additional 13 were what I would call “essentially correct” (for a total of 102 out of 108).
The specificity of my predictions in TASM was by decades. There were predictions for 2009, 2019, 2029, and 2099. The 2009 predictions were providing a vision of what the world would be like around the end of the first decade of the new millennium. My critics were not saying “Kurzweil’s predictions for 2009 are ridiculous, they will not come true until 2010 or 2011.” Rather, they were saying that my predictions were off by decades or centuries or would never happen. So if predictions made around 1996 for 2009 come true a year or a couple of years after 2009, given that the specificity was by decade, and the critics were saying that they were wrong by decades or centuries, then I would consider them to constitute an essentially accurate vision of what the world would be like around now.
Kurzweil's book "The Singularity is Near" is a fascinating read, suggesting humanity is on the cusp of a new stage in evolving technology, particularly in genetics, computers, and nano machines, to the point we could potentially upgrade ourselves. The implications are staggering.
Thanks to that, Kurzweil is sometimes dismissed as a kook, or worse. Critics seek to disprove his future theories by debunking predictions he's made in the past.
Given a little latitude, plus or minus a couple years for predictions made in terms of decades, Kurzweil's predictions have a much better track record than, say, those of Joan Quigley, Nancy Reagan's astrologer.
What does his track record mean for his predictions about the 2050s? At the very least, it's time to read his book.
PS. Isn't the new Jawbone ICON a personal computer embedded in an earring or body ornament that looks like jewelry, networked using a body-scale local area network? See: http://us.jawbone.com/productsPageIcon.aspx