Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Predictions are Hard, Especially About the Future"

I was listening to a talk recently when this was said by a someone with unquestionable technical expertise. Given that I know what he meant to say as opposed to what he actually said I will protect my source. The point is of course, that you can guess, you can calculate, you can run all the statistical models in the world, and you might be wrong anyway. After all, the future is a result of lots of moments of now, and my now and your now and other people's now and the now that comes after the next now and the mere fact that I give you a clue about a possible direction might change your behavior and hence that direction.

The stuff science fiction is made of. Did you know that it is not at all science fiction that DARPA is funding a design project to see if we can develop a propulsion system to get us to Alpha Centauri in 100 years instead of the current 65,000 years? (Perhaps the goal is 1000 years - I may have misplaced a 0). Think about the development of a backbone array of receivers stretched across the galaxy. A different set of interplanetary protocols are needed. TCP/IP wasn't designed to store data (why should it have been?) so when there are delays....whoops, lost a packet. In trying to beam Dr. McCoy from Planet Earth to Alpha Centauri, we seem to have misplaced a few of his body parts. Just as Bones predicted would happen. I gather, then, that the idea is to develop interplanetary protocols with a store and forward capability that will withstand episodic disruptions and delays.

Not so far in the realm of the future, in fact, in the here and now, is an internet enabled surfboard. And it has been around for a decade. At least in prototype that is, because I can't find anyone, including Intel who created it, selling it (see one news article here) . I confess to having mixed feelings about a wifi ready surfboard anyway. Surfboards are a dime a dozen here in Southern California. On any given day, unless the ocean is flat as a pancake, you are likely to find the dedicated out on the waves. More often than not, they are just sitting there, hoping for that perfect swell. Assuming proper conditions, a good time to find them is between 7:00am and 8:00am on any given weekday. At 8:00am they pile out of the water, strip off the rubbery outfit and put on their suits over their sandy selves. Off to work. Last week, I was driving down the freeway at about this time, when a bright green surfboard came bouncing along - it must have come loose from someone's car as they boogied to the office at 80mph.

Speaking of high speed, I wonder what data rates you can get on a surfboard? Is the surfer more likely to miss the perfect wave if they are busily updating their status on Facebook? Personally, I prefer to leave all that behind when I don the rubbery outfit. Maybe others do too. Maybe that's why I don't find the internet surfboard for sale even in my local high end surf shop. (Excepting perhaps Los Angeles and vicinity, I can't think of any place in the continental US where a wifi surfboard would be more likely to make an appearance).

Then there is IPV6. You  techie nerds out there heard of it? It held it's world launch in 2012, yet to date, penetration is at about 1%. I agree with Vint Cerf (see that link two sentences back): we should stop making excuses and implement it.

It is super cool that as of last fall, non Latin domain names were approved. Cyrillic anyone? Speaking of the future, at the time I located that article, it was dated tomorrow (i.e. one day ahead of the day I am functioning in). Of course this has to do with time zones in Europe vs. San Diego, but it seems very in the spirit of things that there is a post made in the future about a futuristic tech topic in a post about the future of technology.For just a blip in time I can see the future.

Have a wonderful now.

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