Re: poly: Re: Emerging Technology (was: Rapture of the Future)

From: Perry E. Metzger <>
Date: Fri Jan 02 1998 - 17:29:34 PST

Anders Sandberg writes:
> A spin off-thread: what technologies do we see now that are like the
> internet in the 80's?

The internet is the internet of the '00s


We've barely scratched the surface. Most people who are online have
dialup connections. The world is going to utterly change when most
people have 10mbps to their home at all times 24x7 -- among other
things, it makes full motion HDTV feasible, makes videophones and
teleconferencing an afterthought, and probably will destroy the
television and radio networks as well as the broadcast stations and
cable operators (though they may all metamorphose and survive that
way). It will likely have a major impact on video stores, music
distribution, and lots of other stuff. I haven't even *mentioned* the
impact on the phone companies, which will likely be astounding. The
internet is still at the bottom of the S curve. I won't even venture
to think what it will be like near the top.

Connectivity to the portable is also only just beginning. Metricom in
the Bay area and a few other places (like D.C.) is a taste of what
will come, but they only provide a few tens of kbps at most -- with
multi-megabit mobile links, you can start doing really interesting

There are also more mundane technologies that I believe are about to
break out. Display technology is one of them. This is the last five
years of the CRT. CRTs are mature, dead end technology -- solid state
stuff like LCDs drops in price 50% a year, and CRTs budge only slowly.
NEC is now selling 20" 1280x1024 LCD displays. They cost $8k. That
implies they will be $2k in three years (assuming a halving of cost
every 12 months), which means they will, at that point, pass the price
point of CRT displays. Two years past that, they'll be $500, and we
can assume that high resolution LCD displays will start appearing
everywhere. Within ten years, we can expect displays of various sorts
to start being cheap enough to paper walls with.

> The obvious one is biotechnology. In the late 80's and early 90's it
> was all the rage to invest in it, but then nothing much seemed to
> happen and the real yuppie era ended.

Dunno. Lots of drugs sold now are bioengineered. Drugs aren't sexy
very visible in a consumer sense, but they are rather profitable.

BTW, PCR is now ubiquitous -- ten years ago it wasn't.

> But now it is accelerating, and it seems like it is snowballing in
> capability. People seem quite happy to invest in it again, so it
> might be a "late" growth technology to invest in. Are there others,
> much earlier?

Dunno. I stick to what I understand. I don't *know* what you can do
with biotech in five years, but I do know computers and networks, so I
invest in them.

> One area I think will get BIG very soon is knowledge management
> software of various kinds.

The one problem here is that knowledge management is a research
problem. Stuff like the net replacing television broadcasting is
*easy* to predict because it involves no technical breakthroughs, just
engineering. You can download video right now, but people have links
to slow to make it practical. Various kinds of automated information
management are at the edges A.I. problem and I don't know how they
will be solved. It is easier to predict engineering than research

It is also unclear, btw, how much money will be made off of that.

One thing Harry Hawk impressed on me many years ago was the fact that
most successful communications technology gets used early (at its
leading edge) for pornography. The fact that people are using video
over the net for porn leads me to believe it will probably be a very
successful video distribution medium.

Received on Sat Jan 3 01:19:18 1998

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