Technology’s future lies beyond imagining

I was on staff at Computerworld when it turned 25. That was in 1992; I interviewed Doug Engelbart and Andy Grove as part of the special issue we did to celebrate. Engelbart’s ideas on hyperlinking and other things were still a little out there, three years before the World Wide Web was invented (that’s why those links don’t lead to the interviews I did, since this pre-Web publication does not seem to be online). Moore’s Law was talked about but not a buzz phrase. I found Engelbart fascinating, but had trouble getting his ideas through to my editor. Grove was tough and pragmatic and driven, yet also humble.

It’s 20 years later and I just wrote this piece on Computerworld’s 45th birthday. It’s a bit amazing that there is still a print version of Computerworld; most of its rivals are no longer in print (though some remain online). In another 45 years, we should have hit the singularity, and if Ray Kurzweil is right, I’ll be able to write CW’s 90th anniversary edition (I’ll be a mere 93).

Computerworld will then be something we’ll read from nano-neural circuits we access via a process that will look much like meditation (we still won’t truly be able to multitask). But I’ll be contrarian and say that in a few years Moore’s Law will be stalled by physical limits, and our technical progress will dramatically slow. (No one will be able to find this comment in 45 years, of course.)

For now, here’s a little slice of Engelbart’s famous 1968 demo of something like personal computing:

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