The traditional Intel Developer Forum technologists panel has revealed optimism about future growth for some areas of the IT industry, but deep pessimism about others.
Intel's former chief technology officer Pat Gelsinger maintained that the task of IT had only just begun, and that he fears the US is being overtaken in the global technology race.
"Many people think our industry is mature and not growing, but the opportunity for the industry is to have every human on the planet connected to the internet 24/7. We are at about five per cent now, so there is 20x growth out there," he said.
"My greatest fear as a US citizen is that we are becoming a second- or third-world country. Crumbling infrastructure, a failing education system and government policies are putting us in a downward spiral and Russia and China are meanwhile coming on apace."
Similar fears were echoed about the technological progress of South Korea by Woo H Paik, president and chief technology advisor at LG Electronics. "In terms of creativity Korean companies are having difficulties," he explained.
"What they are good at is dedication. It is a different culture compared to the US, with people working until 10 in the evening not because they are told to but because they believe in the job. This kind of dedication is a real strength."
Paik recounted an example of when he was working in America and was surprised at people leaving jobs unfinished just because it was time to go home. But he praised the innovation shown in Silicon Valley and hoped that the same spirit could come to Korea.
Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief technical officer for advanced strategies and policy, was more optimistic but still thought that certain sectors of the industry were too risk averse and should depend more on their partners.
"Very few companies have the patience to start projects that will not see completion five or ten years in the future," he explained.
"Long money and steady support are critical. Working with platform developers is also key to populating the software ecosystems; much of Microsoft's software comes from platform partners."
Nokia's chief strategy officer Tero Ojanperä supported this view, suggesting that any attempt to find global answers to technology questions is mistaken, and that partnerships around the world are essential to keeping the industry healthy.
"I do not think we can survive if we put products out there that are harmonised across the world," he said.
"You need to think about your whole process because you cannot have R&D in every country. We need to figure these out together with partners and customers."
Everyone agreed that, now the post internet bubble slump is over, there are great opportunities ahead, but the technologists warned that there are a plethora of new business models out there.
While many would survive, some would not, they said. The key is to follow the money, as no business survives without profits.
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