Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mr. Liebhold's Skewed Forecast of the Future

Mr. Liebhold paints an incredible journey all of us will take in the future. This future is optimistic, technology driven, and limitless to our imaginations. I don't doubt the pre-determined forces in computing that will shape our world. Machines will be faster, 'smarter' and be a 'virtual' part of our lives. We will have devices that navigates us through the maze that is the future. Mr. Liebhold illustrated this with mapping / avatar programs, marketing driven technology, and so on. It's a world in which a human and a computer shapes the path travelled.

However, I don't quite buy everything he has for sale. My view of the future is that of a holistic sense.

Whose futures are these that Mr. Liebhold illustrates? In listening to Mr. Liebhold speak, I kept thinking, "Wow, this is going to cost starship loads of money." Does everyone get to participate in his vision of the future? Where are the locations of these smart ubiquitous-computing place? Certainly Palo Alto? Or anywhere in the Silicon Valley? Perhaps. What about East Oakland? Let's include Bangalore, India and any major city in Africa.

Do all these places have the necessary infrastructures to be part of Mr. Liebhold's vision? I would argue not. Technology has and will always incorporate the 'have and have-not' element. 99% us sitting in Communication 4840 I would guesstimate, have a cell phone and a computer/laptop with DSL at home. If you didn't know, this is not the norm. A disproportion of the population don't own computers. Many more do not even have DSL capabilities in their own homes. It's a bright, shiny world if you are part of the 'haves.' If you're not, well, you all saw how Vincent had to cope in Gattaca.

It's not that I don't see Mr. Liebhold's forecasts of the future. I do. It's magnificent! However, when I see an argument heavily skewed, I have to stop and think about the flip side of the coin. Mr. Liebhold's forecast of the future is grand. But I think seeing the future in with a wider lens is more significant.

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