Everyone in my office uses a computer. I never travel without one, and my three- and five-year-old grandchildren can play games for hours on their parents’ laptops. Not only do many people have access to computers, but given the Internet, we now have access to millions of people to whom we did not have access before. Fifty years ago, we could not have predicted this. I am therefore hesitant even to speculate about specific information-technology (IT) products and services that will be invented throughout the next fifty years. In this paper, however, I will discuss some things I am confident will be central in the direction of computer and software design over the next fifty years. This confidence comes from an observation about the history and evolution of disciplines and industries dominant today. If we look at the history of many disciplines, we can distinguish certain crucial moments in which the uncovering of a set of simple, stable recurrences opens the door to a sudden rush of innovation, providing orientation to the field for some time to come. Perhaps the most obvious example is the field of chemistry. Here, the articulation of atomic structure and the creation of the periodic table created the foundation of our modern discipline, which has consequently led to the rise of several of our most powerful industries. None of these resulting events could have been predicted in detail or with complete accuracy. But once the periodic table existed, it was clear that it would be a secure foundation for design and fruitful exploration for many years to come. Another example is the field of genetics. Certain aspects of heredity were well understood long before DNA was identified as the source of genetic inheritance and its chemical structure determined. But once Watson and Crick discovered the simple, recurrent structure of base pairs and their helical arrangement, suddenly all the variations of species could be understood in terms of the myriad combinations of this simple set of elements. And with the more recent development of chemical means for manipulating DNA, the biotechnology industry has emerged. Again, none of this could have been envisioned clearly at the time the structure of DNA was discovered. But it was clear that for anyone interested in heredity and genetics, DNA was the only game in town and that it is likely to stay that way for some time to come.
KeywordsResis Meso Stake Arginal
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