Thursday, October 18, 2012

Predicting 2062

IEEE, the flagship body of professional electrical engineering societies, has run a recent edition in the Proceedings on predicting the technological trends in 2062 to commemorate its 100th anniversary celebrations. I spent much of the day trying to glean insights from custodians of the society on the various aspects of electrical engineering and where they will stand in the near- to far-future. With the caveat that "anyone trying to wish to predict the future will surely only make a joke(r) of oneself," it was indeed a brave attempt by many folks to predict the future. Sadly, I saw a lot of self tom-tomming in these future predictions as well as equations (!) and technical definitions. Of course, that did nt impress me much.

Now noone is going to ask a nobody such as me on what the trends would be/could be. Nevertheless, there is ample space in this world for nobodies to divine the future, even if they are laughably insane. With the further caveat that technology minus sociology is arrant nonsense, here we go:
1) Ability to communicate a very complex range of thoughts, ideas and emotions without an active effort such as talking, writing, etc., and the consequent near-vestigeality of many human body parts.
2) A telecommunications landscape that is a patchwork of fixes and solutions with legacy solutions of different eras hugging the terrain with whatever jargon fancies the engineers that day and age. Signal processing solutions that closely mimic the DNA and evolution-based ideas minus the blackboxes of the neural kind. More sophisticated use of chaotic/unreliable parts to make a reliable whole that somehow magically aids the crossing of technical barriers and stumbling blocks.
3) Information that scales at an astronomical rate, yet the near-easy ability to keep up with this scaling although a near-soporific nature on the part of people to keep up. Part of the solution to conquering this seemingly indomitable barrier is to detect and identify data replication and redundancies at multiple levels.

4) A single universal device core with many components that are exclusively used under different circumstances with easily upgradeable/replaceable/removable resources/parts. A back to the past journey where one man/woman is defined by one device rather than a gazillion.
5) Increased use of higher dimensional lifts to solve lower dimensional problems because elegance is not necessary when brute shall suffice. Increased use of high overheads in multiple engineering solutions leading to an exasperation on the inefficiencies that define the feasible solution space.
6) A very complicated and diverse ecosystem of people with gaps between any-capability haves and the capability have-nots reaching astronomical highs. Almost all the information sources of all the eras can be searched in a jiffy, but the affordability of the price tag for this capability will define the class warfare of tomorrow.

7) Solutions that are individualized -- health, devices, education, food and services -- at ever-more affordable prices, yet a very fundamental and indivisible dichotomy that creates, builds and sustains strife on a low- and medium-intensity scale. Abandoned classrooms and lecture halls as common education is correlated with more strife resulting in individualized care.
8) The ongoing war for resources supplanted by theories of optimal utilization of resources. Fundamental dichotomies of greed at the small scale and lack of greed at the large scale explained by newly developed theories of irrational player game and self-contradictory games.
9) Quantitative scientific methods in almost every field studied hitherto qualitatively leading to sociological twists/lessons that sweep through the world quickly. A cat and mouse game between spread of information and prevention of its misuse.

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