The internet bubble of the 1990s was inevitable, and marked the start, not the end, of an internet boom that will last for decades, according to futurologist Paul Saffo, speaking at the RSA Conference in San Francisco.
Saffo explained that the IT revolution of the past 20 years was bound to cause a bubble owing to the inflated expectation of the speed of change, but that this was also a classic sign of an industry just beginning to take off.
"We are just at the start and a whole bunch of futures are going to arrive later than expected," he explained.
"The biggest change is that the information revolution is over. When the bubble bursts the technology goes deeper into our lives, and information ceases to be information and becomes media: information that touches our lives in deep ways."
Saffo believes that, as the nature of information changes, it will lead to a proliferation of new types of media and the way they are accessed. He cited a best selling author in China who is now selling his latest book page by page on mobile phones.
He also highlighted three technologies that will radically change the way people use technology.
The first is wireless and its effect on the mobile phone market. Conventional GSM systems will become increasingly sidelined by Wi-Fi as the enlarged bandwidth allows for whole new types of services.
Having ubiquitous high speed data would mean that today's web applications, like map technology, could be sent to mobile phones, which is where consumers really need the information.
Secondly, RFID technology would make almost every device smarter and able to interact with humans and help us use improved technological tools. This would make today's data use seem tiny in comparison.
"All of our assumptions about data volumes are completely wrong," said Saffo. "In 40 to 50 years you will walk into a room and assume that everything has intelligence on board. The average house in 20 years will have same data volume as a full carrier battle fleet today."
The third advance would be robotics. Rather than robots being huge unwieldy machines they would be small, smart home devices with which humans would have personal relationships, providing today's services at vastly reduced costs.
Saffo cited robotic vacuum cleaners as an example. Sixty per cent of owners of such cleaners had named their robots, and a third took them to friends' and neighbours' homes to show them off.
He also highlighted the development of robotic solar powered aircraft that could fly indefinitely over a fixed point, providing data transmission and information gathering services, calling them the "poor man's geostationary satellite".
Such changes would ensure that security professionals had jobs for life, as the increasing complexity of such systems would make the role of IT security staff indispensable.
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