Victor Hugo, French poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France.
Victor Hugo has two impressive quotes about the way ideas get string and things change.
In his novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, he said “this will kill that“. He talks about the new thing, idea, trend killing the old one.
In another famous quote, Victor Hugo says “You can resist an invading army; you cannot resist an idea whose time has come“.
The killing is normally announced very early, and those destined to death tend to ignore it. Let’s look at two recent examples:
in the first days of internet (1990s?), the death of newspapers was announced. 19 years after, most of them exists yet, but agony of the medium itself is near. Well managed newspaper companies have make a successful evolution into internet based media and other better looking and more profitable business.
the record music industry, in its complete chain, is being defeated by digital music sharing. Again some companies are reconverting but it’s not a simple task.
In both examples, the advent of a new technology changes the basis of an industry. In both cases, as soon as the specific use of the technology is announced, the death of the players as they are known is announced also.
Those two examples aren’t isolated. Information Technology with is innumerable applications can change the way most human activities develop. It’s impact, enormous as it has been, is still in embryo state compared to what comes.
We need no Jules Verne, no Merlin, no magic endowed fortune teller to tell us about some things that will happen soon (in the next 20 or 30 years). All this trends have started, but they will consolidate and replace the older ways.
knowledge related services market turns global.
IT fulfills its basic promise of automating repetitive tasks and enormous quantities of people who actually labors on “human information processing” lost their jobs. Read “clerks” of any type, lots of lawyers accountants.
powerful standards for modeling and storing information enable real data sharing between software artifacts. This reduces or annihilates the cost of changes based business model that today rules IT.
Pure Software development gets cheaper, cheaper, cheaper. New tools make it easier to develop, lots of developers (and damned talented ones) from poor countries enter the world developer pool.
Software artifacts become massive consume goods. and all type of software product gets cheaper, cheaper, cheaper.
costs of managing private IT infrastructure drives forward the cloud and related concepts. As all the information is on the same media, data sharing as a general principle becomes easier.
That’s what we must call the immediate wave. Things that will happen fast and for sure. There’s a second wave also that is far more frightening, but also will happen. I’m a fan of Isaac Asimov. Asimov liked computers. His dreams were about omnipotent and omniscient machines that ruled the word. MULTIVAC as he called his big computer, was an enormous subterranean computer that occupied a complete city. Now it’s obvious that Isaac was wrong, but I still believe some of his dreams will come true. I believe that in a non distant future (less than 100 years, I bet you a beer!) we will have computers smarter than a human being. Computers that will be better computer designers than us. That’s from my viewpoint the real discontinuity: the creation of an artificial intelligence that can make better versions of itself being able to reach an “infinite intelligence”.
The necessary foundations are not here yet. We lack paradigms and building modules to build this first superhuman computer. But lots of brilliant brains are working on it, and now we have the power of super-communication.
Victor Hugo shows us that predicting the future has an easy part and a difficult one:
it’s easy to know the trends i.e. where are we moving to.
it’s difficult to know when the time of each trend or idea will come.