What will develop next after the astounding technology changes of the last 30 years? We have no idea.
His main point is we can no more tell today where technology will be in 30 years than we could predict in 1980 where we are today.
He then points out three major technology transitions that are already here and will have a huge impact in the future:
We are poised to enter a new era that will come from the convergence of three technological transformations that have already happened: Big Data, the Wireless Wired World, and Computational Manufacturing.
If you’ve made it this far into my post, you really need to read his full explanation..
Just a few tidbits:
Maybe we have lost our capacity for amazement. But consider this: When the IBM 370 mainframe was introduced in 1970, it managed the blazing speed of 1 million instruction sets per second, or 1 MIPS. A modern tablet, the iPad, can process 1,000 MIPS, and at one-ten-thousandth of the cost. In just one Cloud data-center, we pack in the equivalent of tens of thousands of such microprocessors.
I am blessed to have awareness of the 360 and 370 environments, so I can really appreciate that comparison.
For those who don’t have that background, let’s work backwards.
Consider your iPad.
Then imagine a machine that works slower by a factor of 1000.
Imagine paying 10,000 times as much for the machine.
Now picture in your mind the refrigerator in your home – turn it on its side and take your neighbor’s refrigerator and stack it on top of your refrigerator.
Now you have a picture of the power, cost, and size of the cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, I-can’t-believe-we’ve-got-such-an-incredibly-powerful-machine as the IBM 360 or 370 series.
3-D printing is just the start
As amazing as 3D printing is, it is really just the first step in Computational Manufacturing. Being able to print a spare part opens the door to astounding things.
Today Boeing can easily print a complicated duct that otherwise would require a very complex manufacturing and assembly process.
What we can do today is fine tune a knee-joint for a specific person and print the joint so it will fit perfectly. That is just the start of what will happen.
Opening the door further, engineers could design a part made of multiple materials. Those parts can be designed at the molecular level for astounding precision.
Where will this take us? Stretch your brain with this:
Computational manufacturing is poised to become a trillion dollar industry, unleashing as big a change in how we make things as did mass production in an earlier era, and as did the agricultural revolution in how we grew things. It is a manufacturing paradigm defined not by cheap labor, but high talent.
The agricultural revolution was astounding. It produced incredible wealth and freed up people to manufacture. Mass production and the rest of the Industrial Revolution was astounding. It also produced incredible wealth and health. The technology revolution of the last 60 years is mind-boggling.
The future impact of all the current technology revolutions will be as transformative, disruptive, liberating, and wealth increasing as either the ag revolution, manufacturing revolution, or what we’ve seen so far in the tech world.
All three of those things Mr. Mills mentions, Big Data, the Wireless Wired World, and Computational Manufacturing, are already here. We have barely started to see their impact.
The future’s so bright we need sunglasses.
(h/t Carpe Diem)